Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Missile defense in Poland…one more step along the road to nuclear war with Russia…why are we doing this?

with 13 comments



In a little break from Georgia, I thought I’d mention that the world has slipped a little closer to nuclear Armageddon in Poland. Yes, the USA and Poland have signed a deal to deploy a US missile system in Poland, purportedly to defend the USA and Europe from missiles from rogue states such as Iran and Korea. This is fascinating several levels, almost all of them unpleasant.

First of all, North Korea and Iran have defence budgets that are trivial compared to the USA’s, and neither is known to possess advanced missile technology. The idea that they have or could have some sort of secret strategic weapons program that is a serious threat to the USA and Europe with their thousands of modern accurate nuclear warheads, is well, hard to swallow. So already this is a little sketchy, we’re spending a fortune to defend against a basically non-existent threat? Even if one makes a case that they might develop such weapons some day, look at the map, you’re going to defending Europe from Iran by building a missile defence in Poland? Why not Turkey, or Armenia, where the Russians offered to build a joint anti-Iranian missile defence system? Sadly, as has been the case since the collapse of the Soviet Union, any offer the Russians make is rejected out of hand, not to mentions promises made to them are broken. In any event, it’s hard to deny that a missile defence system in Poland is more directed at Russia than Iran. If it’s directed at Iran at all.

The Russians are very upset about this, and have gone so far as to point out that this will make the missile sites in Poland legitimate nuclear targets. Why should Russia be worried about a defencive missile system? Couldn’t they easily defeat such a system if they tried? Well, maybe, but that’s not the point. These types of defencive missile systems were outlawed during the Cold War with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. They were considered destabilizing because they would just encourage the deployment of huge numbers of missiles and warheads in order to overwhelm the missile defence. And a working ABM system would be of great use in a first strike, since hopefully a successful first strike would leave Russia with only a few missiles to shoot back with. So these systems arguably aren’t defencive at all, in fact a missile defence system is the ultimate first strike weapon. It’s a safe bet the USA wouldn’t allow Russia to deploy a missile “defence” system in Cuba.

Lastly, it’s not even clear that the anti-missile system will even work. So we are raising tensions with Russia and risking war, over a probably non-workable missile defence system being built to defend against a non-existent threat. This is, frankly, nucking futz. Still, it’s part and parcel of the USA’s never ending effort to completely surround and isolate Russia, with the goal being the the so-called New American Century where the US is the world’s sole superpower and we won’t even allow regional powers to challenge our dominance. In the case of our relations to Russia, it means the USA is playing Monopoly while the Russians are playing chess. I’ve linked to that article before, but it’s such a good read I wanted to particularly recommend it to those who are trying to understand US foreign policy in regards to Russia.

The main point I want to raise here, which seems to be completely dismissed by the powers that be and the media, is that by pursuing a policy of confrontation and isolation toward Russia, we are risking nuclear war. Back in the seventies and eighties people were justifiably afraid of a nuclear war with Russia. Now it’s something that can just be brushed aside as an idle threat? While Americans are usually easily herded into supporting a war, like the citizens of many other countries sadly, this isn’t like a war with Panama or Iraq or even Iran, a nuclear exchange with Russia would be the worst catastrophe that the USA has ever seen. Think 9/11 except with three million, or thirty million, dead.

So we are risking nuclear war just so USA has access to central Asian oil and ever more money can be poured into arms industry coffers? World War One started over such silly machinations as this, at least they had the excuse of not really understanding how bad a world war could be in the industrial era. Nearly 100 years years later you’d think we would know that risking a world war is a really bad idea, but apparently not. I should also point out that the relative strengths of the USA and Russia haven’t really changed much since the Cold War, and in some ways the Russian position has greatly improved since then. Again, more reason to make peace with them, not war.

The other ticking time bomb in this NATO/Russia confrontation is the fifteen million Russians who found themselves no longer living in Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Many of them had been living in Russia for generations, and had no desire desire to stop being Russian citizens. The problems in Georgia are just a small sampler of this sort of thing, there are millions of other Russians living in post USSR states that not only consider themselves Russian, Russia considers them to be Russians. These people are for the most part now despised minorities in their new nations, and for the most part have not been treated fairly. The Georgians for example simply outlawed the Ossetians and Abkhazians from even forming their own political parties to press for their rights.

Nuclear war is a bad thing, we should be following Lincoln’s example, not Cato the Elder:

“Carthago delenda est!” (Carthage must be destroyed)
—Cato the Elder

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”
—Abraham Lincoln

We could have made friends with Russia after the Cold War, that’s certainly what they wanted. It’s probably too late now. Know where your nearest fallout shelter is?

(The above image was created by the author using public domain maps and may be freely reproduced for all non-commercial educational purposes. Credit & Copyright: Doug Stych. Coming soon, more on surviving fallout, clearly I was on the right track.)

Written by unitedcats

August 21, 2008 at 7:43 am

13 Responses

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  1. “We could have made friends with Russia after the Cold War, that’s certainly what they wanted. It’s probably too late now. Know where your nearest fallout shelter is?”

    I just want to know what this means for the NHL.

    Kidding–and maybe I shouldn’t as these events are upsetting you so. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it, though. I’m more upset with the way the media is running away with the latest McCain-Obama poll numbers.


    August 21, 2008 at 10:31 am

  2. I think it’s time for Russia to let everyone know where they stand. I think something moderate dropped just inside Poland should do the trick.


    August 21, 2008 at 1:58 pm

  3. Doug, have you considered that some of these “rogue states” might just have weapons which are in fact very sophisticated?

    Isn’t it a bit arrogant to say that everything that’s really threatening militarily is American? For decades, America has kept a military edge on its enemies – perceived or real – but it that edge becomes less defined as time goes by.

    Consider also another possibility. It’s a very real possibility that America has the intelligence assets, be the space-, very-high-altitude, very-low-orbit, or even HUMINT based, to know exactly what the threats are that makes a missile defense shield seem imperative. If they have that intelligence, and they release it, the target of the intelligence knows not only that it’s being observed, but how it is being observed.

    As usual, neither you nor I know the full story, and your arrogance with statements like “First of all, neither Iran nor Korea possess much, if anything, by way of such missiles, nor do they possess nuclear warhead technology.” really betrays something closer to ignorance.

    Alex J. Avriette

    August 21, 2008 at 4:24 pm

  4. I guess the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain were just too bad for business. They seem to long for the good ol’ days. They do worship the Reagan after all.

    World Famous John

    August 21, 2008 at 4:35 pm

  5. Alex, by that logic any military project whatsoever could be justified, and considering the history of expensive US Cold War military projects that not only turned out to have no justification, they knew at the time they weren’t justified, I think it’s unlikely there is some secret use for this system that we are going to be thankful for some day. You are basically using circular reasoning, claiming it must be reasonable because otherwise why would they build it? I concede that my statement regarding Korea and Iran was inaccurate, I stand corrected. It is possible that they have more military assets than they have revealed. However, the idea that they could have secretly have built up military assets to the point where they are some sort of terrible threat to the USA or Europe, “nuclear blackmail” is the term bandied about as if it meant something, is ludicrous. The USA has the ability to turn either country into a parking lot, even if they did attack at first, so the idea that they are planning to attack us and invite such a response seems unlikely.


    August 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm

  6. You didn’t make any mention of the patriot missile batteries that are now being installed in Poland as well. These are CLEARLY targeted at Russia. American justification being that Russia made a nebulous threat against Poland, so now we have to “defend” our NATO ally.

    Finally, you’ve probably also read that our testing of these anti-missile defences has not been going terribly well. In our tests under IDEAL conditions (only one offensive missile launched, knowing exactly the trajectory of that missile, clear weather, daytime, etc.) we were able to incapacitate the missile 7 out of 13 attempts. Gee… if someone launched 2 or 3 real warheads (assuming that Iran or whoever only had access to a couple, and not hundreds of warheads) and a couple hundred dummies under poor conditions… well our odds of actually intercepting the real warheads are pretty close to zero.

    In conclusion we are deploying an extremely dubious anti-missile system (theoretically targeted at rogue states… as we all know it’s so terribly difficult to insert new target codes) along with proven offensive missile batteries, right on the border of Russia. What could they be upset about? Crazy Russians.


    August 22, 2008 at 8:03 am

  7. Yes, I am using circular logic, no doubt about it. The primary difference is I believe the government knows more than you or I (and I work for them, the M-I-C), and they’re very careful about what they tell and who they tell it to.

    So, maybe there is a reason they build the things they do. I think the fact that they’re scared enough to really piss off the Russians is proof enough that they’re worried. Can you not see the logic in that? America has no interest in war with Russia. None. It does, however, have interest in stopping missiles before they become dangerous.

    We don’t have any Kissingers around right now (although he’s certainly not missing, and we do have Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen to name a few), or a Curtis LeMay or a MacArthur itching for war. Remember, the current doctrine is “small wars.” We build Littoral Combat Ships not massive land-and-sea attack ships like you saw in the Great War and WWII, the BBs and the Prinz Eugens or Yamatos.

    It pisses off the Russians, but I don’t see a cold war coming.

    Lastly, Doug, while I think we disagree a bit on politics, I appreciate your very in-depth discussion and definitions of “just what’s going on.” Thank you for doing that.

    Andrew: The Iranians are more interested in sending a CVBG to the floor just to show someone can do it, and totally change the game. Someone will, some day, probably soon, and believe me, all hell will break loose. Missiles are only part of the problem; they can’t make them fast enough, and anyone can see the launch plumes from space. For a preview, have a look at US patent 6958813.

    Alex J. Avriette

    August 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

  8. Personally, I’ve never understood why we are putting missile defense systems in eastern Europe. It doesn’t protect the U.S. directly and it ticks off the Russians. Let Europe defend Europe. The Russians might understand that.


    August 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

  9. Alex, I really appreciate your comment. Always nice to have polite and literate people around who disagree with what you say. (Which is one criticism I have of a certain administration… the one where all dissenters are fired… but I guess this isn’t the time or place for a rant about that.)

    I am wondering (Alex) if you have any insight into why they are installing the patriot missile batteries? The anti-Iran one I can sort of understand… but the short range missiles? Seems just like pure provocation. Can you help me out here?



    August 27, 2008 at 6:40 am

  10. Your post, once again, is spot on. It’s hard to imagine how the MDS in Poland is aimed at Iran, which we’ll probably attack soon anyway. Depressingly, a recent poll suggests 78 % of Americans love John McCain on foreign policy. Thus, Americans seem to celebrate any maneuver that can accelerate the apocalypse. I unfortunately don’t even think the mainstream is seriously prepared to consider the implications of putting a missile defense shield in Poland. God help us all!


    August 27, 2008 at 11:47 am

  11. This alex has the audacity to call you arrogant. When he exudes arrogance himself. You don’t have to be working for any government Alex to know that these “small wars” are fake wars – are policy. It doesn’t matter how civil and careful your criticisms of doug’s rational views on current issues are; it still smacks of bygone scaremongering. Your camp loves to call truth tellers conspiracy theorists when all along you come off as the conspiracy nut yourselves. You and your kind always sound like your trying to convince yourselves of the threats from poor underdeveloped countries, because you know none of us believe that rubbish. I suggest you find a good mirror and stop wasting our time. If you decide to accept the truth in place of your bogus intel, and fuzzy photos… one can only hope and pray for open eyes.


    August 29, 2008 at 11:49 am

  12. Truthdig had an article on this idiocy almost 3 years ago now, if I estimate the timeline properly. Their observation was that Putin had said ‘an attack on Iran will be treated as an attack on Russia’ – and Russia with actual ICBMs equipped with MIRVs was a lot bigger threat than the possibility Iran was working towards future atomic weapons.
    Back in April 2006 I picked up on an article in European Tribune where Bush had tossed nuke disarmament with Russia – in 2003 I think.
    The PNAC operation was blueprinted – as far as I could tell – with the wargame that was ‘disappeared’ from public view by Rumsfeld : Desert Crossing
    I realize you’re talking about a different ‘confrontation’ – but with Bush/Cheney it doesn’t much matter. Sooner or later they seem to be against everybody.
    Around 1958 Bomarc missiles were deployed in Canada. ‘Air defence’ against supposed Russian ICBMs, they rarely worked in practice – even with nuclear warheads ! They were pulled as trash after two years. The problem then – and the physics hasn’t changed – is that things happen so fast when you attack on suborbital trajectory that there is too little time to get a reliable intercept. You just can’t move the mass fast enough : and if you could, all it takes is more missiles to overwhelm any conceivable antimissiles defence.


    September 4, 2008 at 9:59 pm

  13. Actually to my knowledge, the Russians offered Americans to use facilities in Azerbaijan, not Armenia. Armenia is a quite firm Russian ally, Azerbaijan – not so much.


    November 6, 2008 at 12:57 pm

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