Bush’s Cold War redux

President George W. Bush lit a match re-igniting Cold War tensions in November 2006 with his plan to put missiles into Eastern Europe as part of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system — ostensibly to defend Europe and the United States against an alleged threat of attack from Iran. The plan is to deploy radar to track incoming missiles in the Czech Republic and 10 silo-based interceptor missiles in Poland.

Russia reacted to the announced plan with alarm. Russian President Vladimir Putin had already been sensitive to Russia’s loss of superpower status and the Bush administration’s military expansionism. He repeatedly warned about “those who would like to build a unipolar world, who would themselves like to rule all of humanity.” Last year he denounced NATO’s 1999 admission of nations from Russia’s former sphere of influence — Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Two of those nations are the very ones Pres. Bush has now recruited for his ABM outpost. The head of the Russian armed forces’ general staff, General Yuri Baluyevsky, observed, “An ABM area near Europe’s Russian borders is an unfriendly step, to put it mildly.”

The alleged Iranian threat is non-existent. Iran has no inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, much less the United States — which is good, because the U.S. “midcourse” interception ABM system doesn’t work. After 25 years of development and more than $120 billion dissipated, President Reagan’s “Star Wars” fantasy of shooting down a bullet with a bullet amounts to nothing more than a welfare program for the industrial part of the military-industrial complex.

Nevertheless, basing missiles at Russia’s doorstep is a provocative and aggressive action, akin to Russia’s basing missiles in Cuba during the 1960s. Why would Russia not react defensively to our aggression now, as we reacted defensively to theirs then? Although the planned ABM system was characterized by Pres. Bush as benign relative to Russia, leading U.S. strategic analysts have explained that Russian planners must regard the system and its chosen location as a first-strike weapon.

The recent alleged Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia was used by the Bush administration as a pretext to conclude the agreement with Poland to place the ABM missiles there, thus, as Associated Press commentator Desmond Butler observed, “bolstering an argument made repeatedly by Moscow and rejected by Washington: that the true target of the system is Russia.”

The deal with Poland contains a highly unusual concession: a U.S. Patriot missile battery that can shoot down short-range missiles or attacking aircraft is to be moved from Germany to Poland, where it will be operated by a crew of about 100 American military personnel. American troops will join the Polish military, at least temporarily, at the front lines — facing east toward Russia.

NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe was described by former U.S. diplomat and Cold War expert, George Kennan, as “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era, [which] may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the Cold War to East-West relations.” Current efforts to expand NATO even further to Georgia and Ukraine could become extremely hazardous, especially in the aftermath of the August war in South Ossetia between Georgia and Russia. The five-day shooting war brought talk about a “new cold war” into the open.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a speech on Sept. 18, castigated Russia for its alleged invasion of Georgia. The following day, the Russian Foreign Ministry retorted in a statement that Rice had “grossly distorted the events caused by Georgian aggression against South Ossetia.” The statement said Russian military action had been undertaken solely to defend its citizens in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali under attack by Georgia.

The key question — Which side was the first to launch military strikes? — is now receiving increased scrutiny that suggests Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili triggered the bloody war and then told the West bold-faced lies.

Information coming from NATO and OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, now paints a picture different from the one that prevailed during the first days of battle. It was already clear then to officers at NATO headquarters that the Georgians had started the conflict and that their actions were more calculated than either pure self-defense or a response to Russian provocation. Even more clearly, NATO officials believed that by no means could minor preliminary skirmishes that took place be seen as justification for Georgian war preparations.

The details extracted by Western intelligence agencies agree with NATO’s assessments. According to this information, Georgia amassed roughly 12,000 troops on its border with South Ossetia in July, along with a third of their military arsenal. Saakashvili’s plan, apparently, was to cut off South Ossetia from Russia. The detailed examination of the sequence of events is now seen as evidence that Russia did not act offensively, but merely reacted to a blitzkrieg attack by Georgia. There are now calls in Washington DC and Europe for an independent investigation of the matter.

Secretary of State Rice also charged in her speech that Russia is becoming “increasingly authoritarian” and “aggressive” — a highly ironic case of the pot calling the kettle black. She said Russia’s leaders are putting their country “on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance.” Russian President Dmitri Medvedev countered the following day that no external circum-stances or outside pressure will change Russia’s strategic goal to modernize its military and raise its defense capability to a proper level, that is, to a level where the United States won’t throw its weight around in their backyard.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo ben-Ami, writing in the Beirut Daily Star, advised: “The U.S. ... must understand that, when excluded and despised, Russia can be a major global spoiler. Ignored and humiliated by the U.S. since the Cold War ended, Russia needs integration into a new global order that respects its interests as a resurgent power, not an anti-Western strategy of confrontation.”

As a country with a huge military machine, we must rein in our imperialist forays and engage our adversaries in cooperation for mutual security, not in provocation that can escalate dangerously.

– edited from Voice of America, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Der Spiegel, www.chomsky.info, Washington Post and RIA Novosti
Peacemeal, Sept/October 2008

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Ballistic Missile Defense: from fantasy to furor

The Bush Administration’s attempt to install ballistic missile defense bases in Eastern Europe has created a growing diplomatic storm. It opened bilateral negotiations with the Polish and Czech governments on missile bases in their countries without adequately consulting other European allies or coordinating the proposed system with NATO’s own missile defense projects. And, unsurprisingly, Russia “went ballistic” over the location of such bases near their borders.

The Administration asked Congress to appropriate more than $300 million next year for the proposed BMD project that could eventually cost $4 billion, even though the threat it is aimed at—an Iranian missile capable of reaching Europe—isn’t expected to materialize until 2015. The Administration is pressing ahead with deployment of the “midcourse” system, designed to shoot down missiles while they are still beyond Earth’s atmosphere, even though it has repeatedly failed in testing. Only one successful test of the interceptor has been conducted since 2002, and that was under controlled conditions that don’t approach a real attack.

The Bush Pentagon has been chastised repeatedly by Congress, government watchdogs, and its own expert auditors for rushing the deployment of missile defense systems before they have been adequately tested or a genuine threat has even materialized. Politics is one explanation for this costly and destabilizing rush. The Administration was determined to lower the first interceptor missiles into silos in Alaska before the 2004 election; now it appears determined to pour concrete in Europe before the 2008 election.

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House subcommittee handling missile defense, planned to introduce legislation that would give control over missile defense testing back to the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation office, which judges the readiness of all other weapons systems. That control on BMD systems was eliminated by the Bush Administration.

The more fundamental problem politically is that Democrats in Congress have caved in and joined the Administration in funding the current limited embodiment of Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars,” which was to be an impenetrable shield to protect the United States.

An impenetrable shield, like an unsinkable ship, is an attractive fantasy. But reality is that after more than 20 years of development effort and $100 billion of taxpayer money, the hardware produced by the Missile Defense Agency and its predecessors has not approached the functionality of a Model T. Missile intercept tests that are dumbed-down repeatedly fail, even when the target missile sends out a signal for the interceptor to home in on.

Even if it worked, less complex ways to circumvent a BMD system existed in Ronald Reagan’s time and exist today. Congress needs to shoot down “Star Wars” once and for all, and get busy heading off the Administration’s plans to put weapons in space.

– Jim Stoffels, with information from The Washington Post
PeaceMeal, May/June 2007

Bush re-igniting Cold War
Moves to put missiles back in Europe

One of the major events in de-escalation of the Cold War during the Reagan Administration was the 1988-91 removal and destruction of U.S. intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe, along with the similar destruction of such weapons by the Soviet Union. Under the terms of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the United States and Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles.

Now the Bush Administration wants to put missiles into Eastern Europe as part of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system to defend Europe and the United States against a perceived threat of attack from North Korea or Iran. The White House wants to deploy missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 silo-based interceptor missiles in Poland. Administration officials have already made offers to Warsaw and Prague to start detailed negotiations on hosting parts of the system.

An alarmed Russia believes the move may adversely affect global as well as European security, the head of the Russian armed forces’ general staff said in December. Speaking to a gathering of foreign military attaches in Moscow, Yuri Baluyevsky said: “The creation of a U.S. anti-missile base cannot be viewed otherwise than as a major reconfiguration of the American military presence. Vanguard groupings of the U.S. armed forces in Europe have until now had no strategic components. This raises the question as to who U.S. anti-missile plans are really targeted against, and what kind of implications they may have for Russia and Europe at large.”

“An ABM area near Europe’s Russian borders is an unfriendly step, to put it mildly, and an unfriendly signal,” Baluyevsky said. “The potential interception zone for ballistic missiles from this area will span much of Russia’s European territory,” he added. “Given that its [the shield’s] creation may prompt other countries to step up their activities in missile building, the situation in the longer term appears all the more alarming. It is clearly fraught with the potentialfor a nuclear arms race, which will have a negative impact on global strategic stability.” Baluyevsky also expressed concern over the potential damage that may be caused to Russia’s environment by the nuclear warheads of missiles shot down over Russian soil.

Dr. Theodore Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at MIT, doubts that the proposed installations would be effective against a threat from Iran. He says that by the time Iran developed intercontinental ballistic missiles that could conceivably strike the U.S., they would probably have long-range missiles to knock out the Eastern European facilities first. Postol thinks that this may be only a ploy to involve as many countries as possible to ensure the survival of the multi-billion-dollar U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense program.

– edited from RIA Novosti (Russia), NewScientist.com (U.K.) and Agence France-Presse
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2007

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Dual missile test fails off Hawaii

A drill planned to demonstrate the Navy’s ability to knock down two incoming missiles at once from the same ship failed off Hawaii’s coast on 7 December 2009, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said. A computer configuration problem aboard the USS Lake Erie grounded one interceptor missile, and officials halted the second during the test of the sea-based U.S. missile defense system. It was the second failure in nine tests of the system by MDA and the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet has been gradually installing missile surveillance and tracking technology on many of its destroyers and cruisers amid concerns about North Korea’s long-range missile program. In the latest drill, a dummy enemy ballistic missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, simulating a missile attack on U.S. territory, and a shorter-range missile was fired from a Navy aircraft and aimed at the anti-missile ship, the Lake Erie, the agency said. Both target missiles dropped harmlessly into the ocean.

Missile defense officials claim the U.S. missile defense system already being installed on ships is still viable, and they are planning a repeat of the dual-launch test, probably sometime in 2007.

Since former President Ronald Reagan launched his “Star Wars fantasy in 1983, the United States has spent more than $100 billion on missile defense R&D. Although no functional system exists after 24 years of work, President Bush is deploying a cobbled-together, ground-based system in Alaska.

Riki Ellison, president of the industry-supported Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance in Alexandria, Virginia, said, “Though this event is discouraging, the testing enables our defenses to be more efficient and more effective.” [And it extends the weapons industries’ lucrative contracts. – Editor] Ellison, a former linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, admits to being obsessed with missile defense.

– edited from The Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2007

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Deployment follows missile defense failures

In spite of an indefinite postponement due to recent failures in the flight test program of the costly U.S. missile defense system, the Bush administration is proceeding with deployment of more interceptors. Ten new interceptor missiles are being installed at the Fort Greely, Alaska, base of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), officials said, adding to the six already in place.

The "interceptors" have never intercepted an incoming missile under realistic conditions. The only tests that have succeeded were rigged. Following a "successful" flight test in July 2001, for example, it was revealed that the target vehicle was rigged with a Global Positioning System device for the kill vehicle to home in on. In the last two flight tests, which followed a two-year hiatus after the previous failure — and cost $85 million each, the interceptors failed to leave their launch silos.

The Bush administration has responded to the flight test failures by curtailing reports to Congress on schedules and cost estimates and restricting information about the targets and decoys used in tests.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked Congress in 2003 to exempt missile defense from the law that requires all weapons systems to satisfy operational tests before being deployed in the field. President Bush then made a rash promise that he would have a limited system in place by the end of 2004. In order to do so, he unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was a cornerstone of nuclear arms control for 30 years. He then proceeded to deploy non-functional components of a system whose overall architecture is presently "not knowable," according to MDA director Gen. Ronald Kadish, "because we have a lot more research and development to do." Major components are still in early development, and the networks to link the pieces of hardware to computerized controls are only gleams in some programmer's imagination.

Philip Coyle III, former director of operational testing at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001, said the agency would need 20 or 30 more developmental tests before it will be ready for realistic testing. "If it takes two or three years to get a success," Coyle said, "at that rate, those 20 or 30 tests could take them 50 years."

Moreover, trying to make a missile defense system work is an exercise in futility. Even a working system could be circumvented by much less complex technology. President Reagan's science advisor, George Keyworth, admitted back in the ‘80s that Star Wars would be ineffective against a ground-hugging cruise missile. Today, any terrorist group or nation that gets hold of a "loose nuke" on the black market is not going to deliver it with a ballistic missile that can be traced back to its point of origin, according to our intelligence community. A cargo ship or rental truck will do nicely.

 In the 22 years since Pres. Reagan began funding his "Star Wars" missile defense scheme, some $130 billion have been spent pursuing the fantasy of "hitting a bullet with a bullet." Funding is now at $9 billion a year — more than double the amount during the Reagan years. A study released in January by two nongovernmental organizations found that the cumulative cost of a "layered" missile defense system, as called for by the Bush administration, could be between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion — making it the most extravagant weapons industry welfare program in history.

– with information from Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and Slate.com
PeaceMeal, July/August 2005

Duck and cover, Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced February 24th that Canada will not be joining the Bush administration's ballistic missile defense (BMD) scheme. Minutes later, U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci said the United States will choose when to fire missiles over Canada, whether the Canadian government likes it or not. "We will deploy," Celluci said. "We will defend North America."

Cellucci warned several times that Canada's decision had handed over some of its sovereignty to the U.S. "We simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty — its seat at the table — to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming toward Canada."

Cellucci said he understands the political issues that made it difficult for Martin's minority government to endorse an unpopular American plan. Polls have suggested most Canadians oppose the project and Martin might even have faced a revolt within his own Liberal caucus. While the Conservatives support missile defence, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and many Liberals oppose it.

Canadian supporters of the program contend Canada will sit on the sidelines without any say over how the system is used, without any access to billions in related research contracts, and without any political credit from Washington. Opponents argue the expensive weapon system could trigger a new arms race, question why it's necessary in a post-Cold War climate, and note that the anti-missile technology has repeatedly failed tests.

The formal announcement by Ottawa completes a slow retreat for Martin, who expressed support for the project last year in his early days in office, then qualified his support, and finally fell almost silent on the issue. Martin insisted that Canadian sovereignty remains intact. "Canada is a sovereign nation," he said, "and we would expect and insist on being consulted on any intrusion into our space." But critics scoffed at that, saying it's unrealistic to expect the Americans to phone Ottawa before shooting down a missile coming in at high speed.

Martin's own foreign minister, Pierre Pettigrew, acknowledged that reality when asked whether Canada's refusal means the final say now belongs to the U.S. "Listen," he said, "the command of making a decision within eight minutes is a very, very rapid one anyway." Pettigrew said he told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of Canada's intentions on February 22 at the NATO summit in Belgium, and phone calls quickly went out to Cellucci and U.S. deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Prime Minister Martin personally informed Cellucci by telephone.

Martin insisted the move won't hurt bilateral relations. "Canada and the United States remain one another's staunchest allies and closest friends," Martin said. Canada remains deeply committed to security, he added, noting $13 billion in new military funding in the federal budget. But instead of joining missile defense, Canada will work on border security, reinforcing coastal and Arctic sovereignty, and expanding the military.

NDP leader Jack Layton said the prime minister clearly would have preferred to involve Canada in the U.S. scheme. "Absolutely everybody knows that if we had a majority government in the last election we would be in Star Wars all the way," Layton said. "Now what we have is a half-way picture where we are half-way in and half-way out and nobody can figure out the dithering on this one."

Martin had promised a new era of Canada-U.S. relations after bitter divisions over the war in Iraq. But U.S. officials warned it would be an inauspicious start if Canada refused to join the missile plan. Bush raised the issue repeatedly during a trip to Canada late last year and, against all expectations, publicly prodded Martin for support while the prime minister sat by his side.

Analysts warn that Canada's rejection of missile defense is a historic shift in its relationship with the United States and could have deep unforeseen consequences. The announcement is more significant than Canada's refusal to join fighting in Iraq or Vietnam, some say, because this time the country has rejected a domestic defense plan. At the same time, most analysts believe the Canada-U.S. trade relationship will continue unhindered because the countries rely heavily on each other's goods and services.

But Canada's refusal to sign on to the missile plan could further marginalize its concerns and interests vis-a-vis the United States. "This is one more issue that goes into the balance scale, one more reason to say, ‘Screw Canada,'" said David Bercuson, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Prime Minister Martin declared the United States must seek permission before firing any missile over Canadian airspace. "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission."

But critics said the prime minister is deluding himself if he expects a heads-up. Bercuson said only military officials involved in missile defense would be in on any strike. And Conservative foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day openly mocked the idea that Martin would get a phone call: "These missiles are coming in at, you know, four kilometers a second."

But NDP leader Layton said the only delusion is in the minds of people imagining scare scenarios of some potential missile attack. "These are the kind of hypothetical questions that Bush has tried to create in the minds of people to elevate a sense of fear. The fact is that if Canada is a part of a program like this, then we become a target."

– edited from Canadian Press
PeaceMeal, March/April 2005

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

National Missile Defense system a fantasy

by Jim Stoffels

When reality doesn't provide the security we want, there's nothing like a good fantasy to hide behind.

[Orlando Sentinel] Columnist John C. Bersia pans the "dim-bulb idea" of 1960s duck-and-cover drills, which were supposed to protect schoolchildren rom a nuclear blast, and the Star Wars "fable of a protective umbrella that the Reagan administration was trying to sell" in the 1980s. (Tri-City Herald, Dec. 27) Yet, he somehow sees as "right" President Bush's decision to begin deployment in 2004 of a national missile defense (NMD) system that doesn't work.

What will we be deploying? After 20 years of development and some $100-billion of taxpayer money, the hardware produced by the Missile Defense Agency and its predecessors has not approached the functionality of a Model T. Missile intercept tests repeatedly fail in spite of the fact that they are unrealistically dumbed-down, with the nature of the target and single decoy known in advance as well as the exact location and time of the launch.

Target discrimination from decoys is a serious problem that remains unsolved. Dr. Nira Schwartz, who worked on Star Wars in 1995 and 1996, charged her employer, TRW, with falsifying test results to cover up repeated failures of the system to detect real warheads from decoys. Dr. Schwartz was summarily fired and has brought suit under the False Claims Act, asserting that TRW knowingly defrauded the American taxpayers.

An independent scientific analysis on test data released pursuant to Dr. Schwartz's lawsuit was conducted by Dr. Theodore Postol, an M.I.T. expert on countermeasures to anti-missile weapons. When his analysis corroborated the claim of falsified results, Dr. Postol sent a letter to the White House in May 2000 presenting evidence of "criminal fraud" in the NMD testing program. Public discussion was squelched by declaring Postol's letter to be classified, but the General Accounting Office substantiated the fraud in a March 2002 report.

In February 2000, Philip E. Coyle III, the Defense Department's own director of testing and evaluation, faulted the anti-missile tests as insufficiently realistic to make decisions about moving from research to building the weapon.

Following a "successful" flight test on July 14, 2001, it was revealed that the target vehicle was rigged with a Global Positioning System device for the kill vehicle to home in on. The head of the Pentagon's missile defense program, Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, subsequently said he was not confident in the "basic functionality" of the anti-missile system.

Most recently, Business Week reported January 7, 2003, that "not a single part of the planned system is likely to be operational or reliable by 2004. Many components won't even be ready by the end of a second Bush term, if he has one."

Moreover, trying to make a NMD system work is itself an exercise in futility. Like the Maginot Line, even a working system could easily be circumvented by much less complex technology. Back in the '80s, President Reagan's science advisor, George Keyworth, admitted that Star Wars would be ineffective against a ground-hugging cruise missile. Today, any terrorist group or nation that gets hold of a "loose nuke" on the black market is not going to deliver it with a ballistic missile that can be traced back to its point of origin, according to our intelligence community. A cargo ship or rental truck will do nicely.

A study of the full costs of missile defense conducted by two nongovernmental organizations was just reported on January 3 at a Washington DC conference of the American Economic Association. The report finds that the likely cumulative cost of a "layered" missile defense system — including boost-phase, mid-course, and terminal defenses as called for by the Bush administration — could be between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion.

Columnist Bersia calls for intense scrutiny and accountability of the hugely expensive ongoing work on national missile defense. But accountability is another fantasy. In what has become a disturbing trend to prevent the public from knowing the bad news and making informed decisions, the Bush administration has curtailed reports to Congress on schedules and cost estimates of anti-missile development and restricted technical information about the targets and decoys to be used in tests.

Instead, the fox is guarding the chicken coop. The NMD testing program has been structured to eliminate independent oversight and give unprecedented authority to companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and TRW which stand to make billions of dollars on the decision to deploy a system that does not exist and cannot work.

Lawrence J. Korb of the Council on Foreign Relations called the entire system a "shield of dreams" whose supporters believe that "if you build it, it will work."

National missile defense in the United States is not a technology, [it has been observed, but a theology.] Given that the history of the program is fraught with failure, fraud and coverup, it is difficult to credit the true believers with protecting anything more than the profits of the weapons industry.

Chairman Jim Stoffels op-ed was published in the Tri-City (Washington) Herald on January 24, 2003.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Lawsuit challenges ABM treaty withdrawal

Thirty-one members of Congress, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), are challenging President Bush's unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington DC on June 11, 2002, claiming that the president cannot withdraw from a treaty without congressional concurrence. The suit followed House Republicans' unanimous rejection of a resolution challenging the president's action.

Although treaties are negotiated by the executive branch and signed by the president, they are part of the "supreme law of the land" and require the approval of a two-thirds super-majority of the Senate. The ABM Treaty was ratified by President Richard Nixon in 1972 after the Senate gave its overwhelming consent, 88 to 2. United States withdrawal from the treaty became effective on June 13, six months after President Bush officially gave Russia notice of his intent to do so.

If it takes two branches of government to make a treaty, can the president alone terminate a treaty without the approval of one or both houses of Congress?

The U.S. Constitution provides no answer to the question, and the courts have handed down rulings that are contradictory or highly qualified. However, the precedents suggest that the president may not act alone to abrogate U.S. treaty obligations. In about 85 percent of the cases of treaty termination since 1798, the president has acted pursuant to a joint resolution of Congress or with the consent of the Senate.

The 31 House members are being represented on a pro bono basis by a group of lawyers led by the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), New York. LCNP was instrumental in the legal action that culminated in the 1996 advisory opinion of the World Court that nuclear weapons are illegal under international law.

The ABM lawsuit was dealt a disturbing blow on June 20 when the only Senator with the courage to join it was eliminated by the Senate Ethics Committee. The committee ruled that Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) could not be a plaintiff in the lawsuit by denying him a waiver needed to accept the free pro bono legal assistance. Senator Feingold will instead seek to file a friend of the court brief.

- PeaceMeal, July/August 2002

See LCNP link under "Links > Peace organizations" on our homepage.

Pentagon skeptical about its anti-missile

The head of the Pentagon's missile defense programs said August 15 that he was not fully confident in the "basic functionality" of the anti-missile system that successfully intercepted a mock warhead in space July 14. Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, the director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, said that because of the uncertainties the next test of the system in October would be a replay of the last test, with no additional complexities like more decoys aboard the target missile.

So, no less than the Top Gun in the BMDO says that the hardware, which has been under development for 20 years, basically doesn't work as intended. Yet, the Bush administration is hell-bent on starting construction of missile silos in Alaska and violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to do so.

The anti-missile system is intended to destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile before its warheads re-enter Earth's atmosphere. It has since been revealed that the target vehicle in the July 14 test was rigged with a Global Positioning System device for the kill vehicle to home in on.

What ever happened to the policy of "fly before you buy"?

- PeaceMeal, Sept/October 2001

"Damn the treaties! Full speed ahead."

President George W. Bush did not wait for Inauguration Day to lay out a militaristic agenda characterized by an attitude of "Damn the treaties! Full speed ahead." In Senate confirmation hearings before the inauguration, his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his Secretary of State Colin Powell zealously championed a National Missile Defense (NMD) system that would abrogate one of the cornerstone treaties of nuclear arms control.

On January 11, Mr. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the nation must develop a massive NMD system. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon will need a substantial budget increase to counter a range of new threats, including ballistic missiles.

It was the same alarmist message Mr. Rumsfeld sounded during the Cold War a quarter-century ago as secretary of defense under President Gerald Ford. Then Rumsfeld also pursued a larger Penatgon budget to increase U.S. nuclear and conventional forces. He moved ahead with the B-1 bomber, the Trident nuclear submarine, and the MX intercontinental ballistic missile.

On January 17, it was Mr. Powell's turn to assert that the Bush administration will move full speed ahead with a NMD system in spite of world opposition and repeated test failures. Moving ahead, Powell said, will probably require changing the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, a landmark arms control treaty.

President Bush, on January 26, said he intended to keep his campaign pledge to reduce the nation's nuclear weapons as he moved ahead with construction of a NMD system. Mr. Bush made his remarks a day after receiving a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin, outlining major issues facing both countries and calling for greater cooperation. Mr. Bush made it clear that he did not intend to back away from his commitment to build a missile defense, even though it is one of the most contentious issues between the United States and Russia today.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld tried to defuse opposition to the administration's plans for a NMD system, at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 3, by offering to help European nations and other allies deploy similar missile defenses. But Rumsfeld did not address in any detail one of the Europeans' principal concerns: how an antimissile defense can be reconciled with strategic arms control and a productive relationship with their eastern neighbor, Russia.

In a speech to the conference of top political officials and defense specialists, Mr. Rumsfeld made it clear that the Bush administration was determined to proceed with an antimissile defense of United States territory, even if it could not overcome objections from Russia, China, and our European allies. He described a missile defense as nothing less than a moral imperative.

However, French President Jacques Chirac last month said an American missile defense "cannot fail to relaunch the arms race in the world." And Rudolf Scharping, the German defense minister, has questioned the technological feasibility of the missile defense plan, and on a recent visit to Moscow urged that arms control agreements be preserved.

Mr. Rumsfeld has been something of a hard-liner on arms control. He opposed the 1979 SALT II treaty, even though it merely set upper limits on the nuclear arms race toward which both sides could continue to build. While other Bush administration officials have previously talked of making deep, even unilateral cuts in the American nuclear arsenal, Rumsfeld had no specific arms control proposals to offer Moscow at the Munich Conference. Yet he insisted that the Russians were mistaken to perceive an antimissile defense as a quest for strategic advantage.

Rumsfeld said, "The idea of an arms race between the United States and Russia ought not to be front and center in our thinking. It is something that is a leftover, a relic in our thinking." And in a classic case of putting the shoe on the wrong foot, he attacked support for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits national missile defenses, as "Cold War thinking."

While Mr. Rumsfeld assured European allies that the United States would consult with them on its antimissile plan, he made it clear that they should not expect Washington to reverse course. Rumsfeld said Mr.Bush would not wait until technology could provide for a perfect defense, but did not mention a timetable. The Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization has outlined a schedule for the new administration that requires Mr. Bush to decide by March whether to break ground this year on a radar in Alaska for a limited NMD system, a step that would increase tensions with Russia and China.

Michael Mandelbaum of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said going ahead with a ballistic missile defense "will put us on a collision course" with Russia, especially when coupled with plans for expansion of NATO membership to the Baltic nations.

Whatever the new administration's definition of "consult" may be, it obviously does not intend to listen to the serious concerns of either adversaries or allies.

- PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2001

Our national insecurity

What is missing in our new administration's fearmongering about the need for a National Missile Defense system is any rational explanation as to why the world's only Superpower should be trembling in its boots while our allies, who have smaller armed forces and are closer to the potential threats, are not doing so. That's because there is no rational explanation for the poles-apart differences we see between militarists and pacifists on issues of national security.

When a previous administration came into office some twenty years ago and set a goal of building 10,000 new nuclear warheads, it became clear to me that what each of us is really talking about when we say "national security" is our own individual and very personal need to feel secure.

Former president Reagan needed 10,000 more nuclear weapons to assuage his fear of the Soviet Union. All he was capable of doing during his entire first term in office is stay safely within his own borders and call his adversary names. It was not until he came face-to-face with his counterpart in the Soviet Union that he discovered President Gorbachev wasn't Darth Vader.

Fear does not come from outside us. If it did, we all would react the same. But our fear comes from inside us. It's not a military or political problem, but a personal problem. We can only conquer our fear by facing it and dealing with it inside ourselves.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

- Jim Stoffels, Editor
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2001

Nuclear Missile Deception: Fraud in the NMD test program

by William D. Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca, World Policy Institute

"It's not a defense of the United States . . . It's a conspiracy to allow them to milk the government.
They are creating jobs for themselves for life."

- Dr. Nira Schwartz, former TRW engineer

The National Missile Defense (NMD) program is permeated with fraud to a degree not seen since the heyday of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in the 1980s. Under persistent pressure from conservative true believers and cash hungry contractors, the NMD plan has been characterized from the start by scientific fraud, exaggerated threat assessments, and political manipulation.

In a March 7 front page article, The New York Times revealed that Dr. Nira Schwartz, a senior research scientist at TRW, had filed suit against the company alleging that she had been fired for refusing to falsify basic research findings on the essential question of whether an NMD interceptor can tell the difference between a decoy and a nuclear warhead. On May 11th, after conducting the only independent scientific analysis to date on test data released pursuant to Dr. Schwartz's lawsuit, Dr. Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta presenting evidence of "criminal fraud" in the NMD testing program.

(Excerpt from the complete article at: www.worldpolicy.org Go to Research Projects>Arms Trade>Reports.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

BMD no defense against HIV

Will Ballistic Missile Defense be the defense contractors' Welfare Act of Y2K?

Sixty-billion dollars have already been spent on BMD with nothing to show for it. Yet the president and Congress are considering spending another $30-billion to build a BMD system that has failed test after test.

We are the only country on earth fat enough to throw such exorbitant sums into a black hole and, it seems, gullible enough to believe that something useful is going to come out.

Ballistic Missile Defense represents an outdated "Maginot Line" way of thinking. The fatal flaw of any BMD system, even if it did work, is that it can be readily circumvented by much less sophisticated technology.

In the 1980s when President Reagan first announced Star Wars, his science adviser, George Keyworth, admitted that the elaborate system would be useless against a relatively inexpensive, ground-hugging cruise missile.

Today, when the real threats to the United States are not so much from major powers as they are from fanatical terrorists, a Ballistic Missile Defense system is more likely to be circumvented by a rental truck.

All the while we have been fiddling with "smart rocks" and such, a real threat to our national security and to global security has been growing. After being ignored by our government for the past decade, the National Security Council has taken the unprecedented step of declaring the global AIDS epidemic a threat to U.S. national security.

Why? Because in the coming decade, Africa, Asia, and even the former Soviet Union are likely to become politically unstable due to the huge loss of population expected from AIDS.

For the price of a couple B-2 bombers, we could effectively attack the AIDS epidemic in Africa and keep it from spreading. But the powers-that-be in our nation's capital continue to allocate a mere pittance to stopping the killer of millions while spending billions on weapons the Pentagon doesn't even want.

Our military hardware fetish can't protect us from HIV.

- Jim Stoffels, chairman and editor
May/June 2000