March 24, 2013

Maine Voices: Maine no place for missile defense base

The U.S. has no good reason to ramp up this flawed program, an effort that amounts to a re-creation of the Cold War.

By BRUCE K. GAGNON

BATH - The Obama administration's recent announcement that a "missile defense" base on the East Coast of the United States will now be studied is the perfect example of a corporate-driven "solution" searching for a problem.

click image to enlarge

The Missile Defense Agency conducts a flight test of a ground-based interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif., on Jan. 26.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

The preferred East Coast basing location for the technically challenged missile defense interceptor system appears to be either Caribou, Maine, or Fort Drum, N.Y.

The Pentagon base location studies have been justified by the supposed "nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran."

Using North Korea and Iran as justification for new missile defense deployments is indeed sketchy, since neither of those nations currently has the ability to launch a rocket able to reach the continental U.S. Nor would they likely fire one even if they had the capability, considering the massive nuclear response that the Pentagon could then unleash.

These missile defense systems have not been proven to work. When Barack Obama first became president, he, in fact, decided to de-emphasize this Boeing-led program (called the "ground-based midcourse missile defense system") because it had failed to effectively perform during testing.

This new decision to ramp up the program appears to be a political one. It indicates that Boeing, and its many subcontractors, have secured enough congressional support to put the program into gear once again.

The U.S. military also intends to deploy 14 additional interceptor missiles in Alaska by 2017 and install a new radar station in Japan for early tracking of missiles. Other ground-based interceptors are planned for Poland and Romania. These are in addition to Navy Aegis destroyers, also outfitted with "missile defense" interceptors, which are increasingly being moved into position off the Russian and Chinese coasts. Obama's announced pivot of 60 percent of U.S. naval forces into the Asia-Pacific region has begun exacerbating tensions in the region.

This entire story is a great illustration of how our democracy and our economy have become captives of the military-industrial complex. We are reminded of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower's warning to us to beware of the power of the weapons industry.

In his last speech to the American people before leaving office, the retired Army general said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. ... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

In another speech Eisenhower reminded us, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Further attacks on social progress here at home will be necessary to pay for these boondoggle "missile defense" deployments.

The Pentagon's missile defense programs are the "shield" that accompanies U.S. first-strike attack planning. After the first-strike sword is thrust at Russia or China, those nations would theoretically launch a retaliatory response at the U.S. It is then that the Pentagon's "missile defense" systems would be used to pick off the retaliatory strikes.

Every year, the U.S. Space Command holds war games to practice a first-strike attack on China. Both Russia and China have repeatedly complained about U.S.-NATO missile defense deployments that are now surrounding their nations.

Russia has threatened to pull out of the New START Treaty (Obama's 2011 agreement with Russia for modest nuclear weapons reductions) because of U.S. "missile defense" deployments. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded to Obama's missile defense expansion announcement saying that Washington's adapted military blueprint would "only intensify antagonism" between the two countries.

North Korea and Iran thus have become convenient excuses for the Pentagon to develop systems that are re-creating the Cold War with Russia and China.

Maine Veterans for Peace has also recently taken a position to join the Global Network in opposing any "missile defense" base in our state and pledges to help build active opposition to it.

Bruce K. Gagnon of Bath is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

 

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