Missile Defense Redux



Huh? According to Condi Rice, the US attempt to put missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic is to counter some future Iranian missile threat? What would that be? Does Tehran want to conquer Poland? For its strategic position, perhaps? Or maybe to set up an outpost of the Revolutionary Guard? This tale of Ms. Rice’s proves that she not only thinks the US public is gullible, she thinks they are stupid. In addition, she doesn’t have much of an opinion of the Russians either, who are pretty upset about the US attempt to extend its missile shield to Russian borders. To those Russians, Rice dismissed their concern, stating “Anyone who knows anything about this will tell you there is no way that 10 interceptors in Poland and radar sites in the Czech Republic are a threat to Russia, that they are somehow going to diminish Russia’s deterrent of thousands of warheads.”

If that is the case, than it must certainly be true for anyone who knows anything about this will tell you there is no way that 10 interceptors in Poland and radar sites in the Czech Republic need to be constructed since the US has the ability to take care of any imaginary threat from Iran with its existing arsenal and defense system. Now, I’m sure some missile shield proponent would tell me that placing missiles to protect the US on lands thousands of miles await from both the US and Iran is necessary, but they would be hard put to make a convincing case. It sounds to me kind of like putting your alarm system and pit bull in that guy’s house two streets over to prevent anybody from burglarizing your house. Or maybe it’s like a drug dealer keeping his stash at a friend’s so that they’ll get robbed instead of him. Either way, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

If I were Russian I would be concerned. After all, those shields would be right on my borders. If I were Czech or Polish, I would be even more concerned, since those shields would be in my backyard. Talk about inviting trouble. Especially when the whole threat exists primarily in the paranoid brains of Washington and the hopeful bank accounts of the war industry.

Anyone with a memory capable of stretching back to the 1980s must of course remember the placement of cruise missiles around Europe during the Reagan years. These placements took place amidst massive public protest throughout the continent and in the United States. Encampments were erected around the US bases involved in the project; blockades of sites occurred and millions of people attended protests in the countries that the missiles were sited for. Despite this, the European governments assented to the missile placements and they were installed. In the current situation, there has been some opposition expressed by citizens groups, and the Polish deputy Prime Minister suggested that the country hold a referendum on the question. This suggestion was immediately dismissed by his superior, who probably remembers the aforementioned cruise missile opposition as well and hopes to avoid a similar scenario in his country. The only official opposition in Poland has come from the pro-business Civic Platform Party which has brought up safety concerns. In the Czech Republic, the Social Democrats have also expressed opposition, but only because the shields are not scheduled to be incorporated into the NATO missile shield. The European Greens, who were major players in the organizing against the cruise missiles and rose to prominence based on their role, issued a statement that read in part: “Fundamentally, the missile defense scheme promoted by the US weakens the security of the people ­ it is neither a fail-safe technology nor a deterrent to aggression. History has shown us that building walls ­ on land, at sea or in space ­ is not the way to achieve sustainable peace. Furthermore a reversion to the ‘old system’ of ignoring public opinion and local communities, is not the behaviour expected of a democratically elected European government.” Whether or not the 2007 version of the European Greens can mobilize a wave of protest comparable to that unleashed in the 1980s remains to be seen. The party itself is a much different beast than it was then, thanks in part to its successes in the parliamentary arena.

Getting back to Russia. The announcement by the US has caused some in Moscow to suggest that if the plans go ahead it could give the Kremlin a reason to pull out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. As Yury Baluyevsky, the Chief of the Russian General Staff put it, “What they (the Americans) are doing at present, building a third missile defense ring in Europe, is impossible to justify.” The INF treaty has been the cornerstone of peace and detente in Europe for almost twenty years. A Russian withdrawal could mean a new arms race with Moscow. Of course, this would certainly make the US war industry happy and would certainly please its Russian counterpart. As for the rest of the world, well, it would only move that doomsday clock a few seconds closer to midnight.

There are those (myself among them) who consider the entire idea of a missile shield to be something contrived of, by and for the war industry. In fact, the early cost estimates (made in 2000 under Clinton) for the shield discussed here that the Polish and Czech bases would be part of came in at around $60 billion and that was almost seven years ago. The entire project assumes many things, foremost among them is that there will be a need for missiles to intercept other missiles coming from a hostile source. Another assumption is that, if such a war does occur, the interceptor missiles can actually intercept the incoming projectiles. Yet another is that if the missiles do collide and esp lode in midair the explosions and debris will not be as destructive as if the hostile missiles had hit their intended targets. Then, of course there is the more general assumption that any battle involving nuclear armed weaponry will have an aftermath that even matters. The aforementioned practical matters may matter to the individuals involved in the project, but it is apparent from their involvement that the moral ones do not. Those politicians that support its continuation and expansion, whether they are US, Polish, Czech or from some other country, should be ashamed to be involved. The fact that this project continues to be funded and promoted proves that they are not. Then again, if the citizens of their respective countries do not call them to task, then perhaps they can continue to convince themselves that they are just doing the people’s will.

UPDATE: As this was being considered, Tony Blair’s spokesperson told the press that Blair wants part of the US missile shield built in Britain.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net



Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred
October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Cuba’s Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War