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