American Missile Project
By a correspondent
The continued war against Iraq, the raging inferno in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the imperialist meddling in Sierra Leone, the increasing US intervention in Colombia, the extension of NATO, the dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia followed by the most barbaric war of aggression against the latter by the war mongering neo-Nazi NATO alliance in the spring of last year, the rejection by the US Senate in October 1999 of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Congressional Bill of March 1999, giving the go-ahead for the building of a National Missile (NMD) system to protect the US against a missile attack—all these events are eloquent testimony to the correctness of the Leninist analysis.
In a brutal statement of arrogant unilateralism, on Wednesday 13 October 1999, the US Senate voted to reject the CTBT on the pretext that the Treaty was unverifiable with regard to other countries ; that it put undue restraints on the ability of the US to check the safety and reliability of its atomic arsenal ; and that it weakened US national security by condemning to obsolescence its nuclear capability.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prevents non-nuclear states from acquiring atomic weapons, was extended in 1995-in theory in perpetuity. In practice, non-nuclear states made this extension conditional on nuclear states taking the lead in establishing a global test ban. As a result of coercion and blackmail by US imperialism, 187 countries signed the NPT. The US administration had engaged in the arm twisting of countries such as India to put their signatures to the CTBT. By rejecting the CTBT for the sole purpose of freezing the United States’ nuclear superiority over other countries, US imperialism, while revealing the hollowness of its feigned concern about nuclear non-proliferation and a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, has served to demonstrate the correctness and justness of the stance of countries such as India which resisted US blandishments to accede to the CTBT on the grounds that it was neither comprehensive (for it did not ban sub-critical testing) nor did it oblige the nuclear powers to commit themselves to comprehensive, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.
The rejection of the CTBT came hard on the heels of the Congressional Bill, endorsed by the two houses of the US Congress on 17 and 18 March 1999, signed into law by President Clinton in July 1999, which obliges the US Administration to build an NMD system. The pretext for this legislation was the alleged threat to the US of missile attack from the so-called ‘rogue states’, that is, any country-be it North Korea, Iraq, Libya or Yugoslavia-which refuses to submit to the dictates of imperialism-US imperialism in particular-and pursues an independent policy. In fact the NMD is a continuation of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) launched in 1983 by the Reagan Administration, Dubbed ‘Star Wars’, it involved the notion of a colossally expensive forest of space-based mirrors and lasers to shoot down incoming Soviet missiles, with the sole purpose of achieving unilateral invulnerability to a Soviet nuclear attack. Since the Soviet Union had never any intention of attacking the US, the SDI boiled down to an attempt by US imperialism to attack the erstwhile USSR with impunity.
Now revived and rechristened the NMD (‘Son of Star Wars’, as it has rightly come to be called), the awesome scope of the project may be gauged from the fact that it is proposed to proceed ‘‘in four stages from an initial 20 missile interceptors in 2005 to a fleet, by 2011, of 250 ‘exoatmospheric kill vehicles’ in underground silos across Alaska and North Dakota, to be unleashed and guided by a global network of three command centres and five communications relay stations using 29 satellites and 15 spacebased radar stations’’.
The purpose of NMD, though launched on the pretext of making the US safe from a missile attack by one of the ‘rogue states’, whose list is constantly changing as per the whims of US imperialism, is plainly to make America invulnerable to a Russian and Chinese attack. In other words, its aim is to make the Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrents redundant and thus enable US imperialism to attack these two countries without risking an annihilatory retaliatory strike from them.
The SDI has cost the US taxpayer $60 billion and, if the resistance in the US and elsewhere does not prevent the American military-industrial complex from going ahead with it, NMD will cost another $60 billion in the coming decade. Leaving aside for a moment other objections, this is a massive transfer of wealth from the American people (whole taxes must pay for the project) to the megamerchants of death such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW and Raythoen. Considering that a quarter of all US children go to bed on a hungry stomach, that 30-40 million of its people live in poverty or on the margins of it, that 43 million people there have no healthcare provision, and two million people are rotting in prison-the overwhelming majority of them black victims of racism and poverty-the obscene criminality of this huge transfer of wealth to the blood suckers of the armament manufacturing industry is a reflection, and a condemnation, of the system of capitalist imperialism.
There is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip—so runs the old saying. There is the inherent difficulty of ‘hitting a bullet with a bullet’, which is what an effective missile defence system has to accomplish. Out of the three tests conducted so far, while the first (in October 1999) scored an ambiguous hit, the second (in January this year) and the third (on 8 July) have been singular failures. The ‘success’ in the first test was achieved through fraudulent means, according to Professor Theodore Postol, an MIT missile expert. The third test proved to be a total fiasco following a wave of hype as the interceptor missile meant to destroy a dummy warhead over the Pacific Ocean failed to separate from its
booster rocket and landed harmlessly in the sea. Thus far the NMD remains completely unproven. The prestigious US Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that NMD will not work because warheads can be divided into small bomblets that would be released from the missile early in its flight so as to be able to overwhelm the defence system with an over abundant supply of targets.
In addition to the technical difficulties, NMD would be a clear violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which bans defences against ballistic missiles and by which the US solemnly agreed to abide.
The entire project, far from providing US imperialism with nuclear invulnerability, may in fact end up making it weaker through stiff opposition to it from Russia, China, Europe and many other countries, each of which opposes it for their own different reasons, and each of which will counter it by implementing sophisticated programmes negativing any US advances in this field. If the US persists with the NMD project, it will be obliged to abrogate the 1972 ABM Treaty, an abrogation which would make Russia feel threatened, and into the bargain remove any remaining, flimsy, restraints on nuclear proliferation. Russia is not fooled by the American assertion that it is building the NMD to protect itself from a missile attack by ‘rogue states’. ‘‘Unsurprisingly’’, writes Philip Stephens in the Financial Times of 14 April, 2000, ‘‘Russia refuses to accept that the US intends to spend tens of billions of dollars building defences against the one-in-a-million chance of a lone missile fired by, say, North Korea. Americans are not that stupid, one European foreign minister visiting Moscow was recently told by his Russian hosts.’’
Continues Mr Stephens : ‘‘So if the US builds missile defences, Russia will respond with more sophisticated counter-measures. So too will China. In Beijing’s eyes, NMD has sinister implications. It might embolden a US defended Taiwan to declare independence, safe behind its shield the US could threaten a first strike in the confidence that it could neutralise any retaliation.’’
Any successful attempt at building even a limited missile defence by the US would have grave consequences for the Chinese nuclear deterrent, for China is reliably known to possess no more than at the most 30 ICBMs capable of hitting the US. Influential American figures now openly admit that the NMD is clearly aimed at China. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday 27 July in Washington, Mr Peter Brookes, the principal advisor to a Congressional Committee on East Asian affairs, said that the real question at issue was the US's nuclear superiority in Asia, and China’s future challenge to American domination :
‘‘Washington should stop denying that there is a link between China’s nuclear modernisation, conventional military build-up and proliferation practices, and the requirement for ballistic missile defence.
‘‘Washington must acknowledge the possibility of conflict with China, especially over the issue of Taiwan, or even North Korea, and plan accordingly to preserve and protect US national security interests and those of our friends and allies,’’ Mr Brookes said.
China and Russia have taken due note of US intentions and actions. For its part, China is reported to be effecting a shift in its defence policy away from massive modernisation of her three armed services to development of strategic weapons-such as ballistic missiles, antimissile systems and nuclear weapons-all this is response to the NMD, to protect the US and the Theatre Missile Defence System (TMD), designed to shelter the troops of the US and its allies (Japan, Taiwan and South Korea) in Asia.
What is more, in view of the common danger faced by them, Russia and China have been spurred into forging close diplomatic, political, commercial and defence ties and cooperation. During his visit to the People’s Republic of China, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, reiterated his opposition to the NMD. He signed a document condemning NMD plans. It is the first time that an event of such importance has taken place since the official resumption of relations between the heads of these two countries nearly 10 years ago. In barely-disguised terms, Russia has threatened to tear up all arms control accords if Washington persists with the NMD. China has stated that ‘‘US-led powers were destabilising global security through imperative globalisation, which was affecting nation states' economic sovereignty and causing a nuclear arms race. Wang Zaibang, assistant president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the resolution by the United States to develop and deploy a ballistic missile defence system, including national missile defence and theatre missile defence, was threatening arms control and disarmament.
‘‘Once all the systems are functioning, Russia-in order to keep its capability to break through the defence net-will probably withdraw from all agreements of nuclear disarmament and redeploy missiles with multiple warheads which would otherwise be eliminated under the Start II treaty. "Other nuclear powers will then be forced to develop their own defence systems as well as strengthening their offensive weapons’’. Mr Wang said, (quoted from Bangkok Post, ‘Asean Regional Forum: Move urged to prevent nuclear escalation’, 21 July 2000).
In a successful effort to counter US assertions that the NMD was merely aimed at countries such as North Korea (not Russia or China), Putin followed his visit to Beijing with a surprise visit to Pyongyang en route to Okinawa for the G8 Summit. During his talks with the Korean leader, Kim Jong II, Putin secured a pledge from the latter that North Korea would be prepared to abandon its own missile programme and to use exclusively missile technology of other states if someone were to give it booster rockets for carrying out peaceful space research. This pledge took the wind out of US sails and made its assertions about a North Korean missile threat to US security look positively silly and absurd.