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Deja vu in the White House, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II
Media Honeymoon for Bush continues

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Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice: Chaos in US Foreign Policy

March 22, 2001

Star Wars and US Foreign Policy

In just two months since taking office without any policy mandate whatever, President George II ("W") Bush has threatened the world with a complete unravelling of the arms control agreements which have maintained the military balance of power for half a century. By announcing his high-priority project to resurrect the Star Wars missile defense fantasy (which was inspired 18 years ago in a speech on March 24,1983, by Ronald Reagan), W proposes to abbrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972, the most fundamental arms control agreement between the US and our number one nuclear competitor, Russia.

Now being called "National Missile Defense" (NMD), with a subplot known as "Theater Missile Defense" (TMD), the proposed $60 billion project has no actual upper spending limit. The potential economic and diplomatic costs are far beyond anyone's immagination. W's Administration has already fundamentally contradicted itself as regards the missile defense proposals, throwing the international arms-control discussion into turmoil. The US major media are distracted by the Administration's radical economic proposals and have extended the W honeymoon on foreign policy.

Numerous media commentators and world leaders have, however, expressed shock and dismay at the reckless and confusing statements coming from Bush and his advisors. One of the most distressing has been the repeated assertion by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that the "ABM Treaty is an anachronism." "Mr. Rumsfeld underscored that the Bush administration was determined to proceed with an antimissile defense of United States territory even if it could not overcome the objections from the Russians, the Chinese and the Europeans. He described a missile defense as nothing less than a moral imperative." (NYTimes, U.S. TRIES DEFUSING ALLIES' OPPOSITION TO MISSILE DEFENSE, 2/4/01, Michael R. Gordon)

On March 8, US Secretary of State Powell did an apparent 180-degree reversal, stiffing both North Korea and South Korea, as the Bush Administration fumbles to get all their foreign policy ducks lined up. Powell now says the continuation of arms reductions negotiations with North Korea which he announced on Tuesday will be put into slow motion.

Reviewing these contradictions in the March 12,2001, NY Times, "Divergent Voices Heard in Bush Foreign Policy," JANE PERLEZ says,

First, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell suggested that the administration would continue tentative steps toward normalizing relations with reclusive North Korea. Less than 24 hours later, President Bush offered a warier view, and officials scrambled to quash the notion of real fissures opening in the new foreign policy team.

The commentary by Thomas Friedman (NYT, 3/9/01) was even more direct:

This is the second time in two weeks that Mr. Powell has been out of step. Last week it was his signaling a willingness for "smarter," but smaller, sanctions on Iraq to hold our Arab allies together. That sparked grumbling from the Dick Cheney-Don Rumsfeld camps. (If this were the Clinton administration, the New York Post headline would read "White House in Chaos - Who's in Charge?")

A less rhetorical question is whether Bush thinks before he speaks. Concerning the President's 3/8/01 contradiction of Powell on N Korea, Friedman quotes Bush:

"We're not certain as to whether or not they're (North Korea) keeping all terms of all agreements." But as the Times reporter David Sanger pointed out, the U.S. has only one agreement with North Korea - the 1994 accord that froze its plutonium processing. And Bush aides admitted there was no evidence that this deal was being violated. Later a White House official, trying to clean up for the president, said Mr. Bush was referring to concerns about whether North Korea would comply with a future deal, even though he didn't use the future tense. "That's how the president speaks," the official said. O.K.

Friedman concludes that if Bush, "is so wedded to his own Star Wars missile shield he doesn't want anything to get in the way, or he is so worried about being accused by Republican hard-liners, as his father was, of being a 'wimp' that he'll never take yes for an answer from the North ‹ then, Houston, we have a problem."

And it appears the revival of Star Wars is the real bottom line in Bush foreign policy - much as drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge is the bottom line in the Administration's policy on environment and energy. Bush needs N. Korea as an enemy, a threatening ROGUE STATE, as a justification for Star Wars. He also needs SADDAM and OSSUMABINLADEN for the same reasons: Highly publicized international bad guys are essential in persuading voters to continuing to support Cold War level military spending. The temptation is irresistable to speculate whether the Bush Administration may resort to covertly provoking terrorist threats as a means of advancing the Star Wars project.


International reaction to the Bush Star Wars rhetoric


NY Times, February 28, 2001, "South Korea Takes Russia's Side in Dispute Over American Plan for Missile Defense" By PATRICK E. TYLER : Less than a week before he meets President Bush in Washington, the president of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung, today publicly took Russia's side in the debate over Washington's plan for a national missile defense. Russian Pres Vladimir V Putin has unequivocally stated that the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which would be threatend by the US plan, is the 'cornerstone of strategic stability' between the US and Russia.


Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser stated: Any government that agreed ... to a proposal to participate in giving an anti-ballistic missile defence shield to the United States alone, any government that contributed to that would be jeopardising Australia's own security," he told the ABC. ("Don't Help US Nuclear Shield, Warns Fraser," Sydney Morning Herald, July 18, 2000, Australian Associated Press)


Lloyd Axworthy, Canadian Foreign Minister: "There are so many other ways we could be pursuing stability.... We have expressed very strong concerns that any movement of the national missile defense that abrogates the ABM Treaty would be wrong. We don't like anything that would further expand acceleration of missile capacity." ("G-8 Ministers: Shield Unwelcome," Washington Post, July 14, 2000)

Earlier Axworthy had said: "A new arms race could be set in motion, one that would undermine the stability that we have all come to take for granted...I am encouraged that the U.S. wishes to take into account the view of its Allies in NATO. After all, the security of us all is at stake." (North Atlantic Council Meeting of NATO, May 24, 2000)


China's President Jiang Zemin and Russia President Vladimir Putin, joint statement:

"The nature of the [American missile defense] plan is to seek unilateral military and security advantages. Implementing this plan will have the most grave adverse consequences not only for the security of Russia, China and other countries, but also for the security of the United States and global strategic stability. . . . Therefore China and Russia are firmly opposed to such a system." ("China, Russia Unify Against U.S. Missile Shield," Washington Post, July 19, 2000)


Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation: "We believe the deployment of the national missile defense system will damage significantly the established defense system. This would absolutely change the balance of power in the international arena, and this itself is a threat." ("Putin Asks Canada To Mediate With U.S." Washington Post, December 19, 2000)

Igor Sergeyev, Russian Defence Minister: "Such a step is apt to trigger an uncontrollable missile and nuclear weapons race, to jeopardize peace and security. In our opinion such actions may narrow down the prospects for further nuclear disarmament, may considerably weaken the non-proliferation regime, and may prompt the nuclear powers to reconsider their strategic weapons modernization plans." ("Russia and India Worried by American ABM Plans," Itar-Tass, June 29, 2000)

Vladimir Putin: "We're against having a cure which is worse than the disease." ("Clinton and Putin Fail to Close Gap on Missile Barrier," New York Times, June 5, 2000 )


China expresses anger toward Star Wars for Taiwan:

BEIJING, March 14 ‹ China's top arms-control negotiator, Sha Zukang, director of China's Arms Control and Disarmament Department, reiterating the country's opposition to American development of a national missile-defense system or a smaller "theater" system in Asia, called the national missile-defense plan an American attempt "to seek its own absolute security" at the expense of other countries. He also said the presence in Asia of a smaller shield would hurt stability in the region. Mr. Sha repeated the country's warnings against a proposed sale of the US Aegis system to Taiwan. "Among the arms they have sold or proposed to sell to Taiwan, Aegis is the worst," said Mr. Sha.

Mr. Sha also said that if Japan put in place a theater system, China would consider it the forward deployment of a potentially larger missile defense for the United States. But China would not object to a theater system that is limited to protecting American troops or ships, he said.

For an insightful commentary on the Chinese view of Star Wars for Asia, see Backing Beijing Into a Corner , NYTimes, March 12, 2001, By TREVOR CORSON , who writes:

The hazard of the Bush administration's commitment to missile defense is that it could push the Chinese into an arms race. To the Reagan and Bush strategists now back in power, this is the approach that defeated the Soviets. But it could have unintended, and very dangerous, consequences.


K. Erik Tygesen, Danish Ambassador to Washington: "The ABM Treaty is a cornerstone of the international order in arms control." ("Testing a Missile and a Treaty," New York Times, January 30, 2000)


French President Jacques Chirac: "It's of a nature to retrigger a proliferation of weapons, notably nuclear missiles. Everything that goes in the direction of proliferation is a bad direction."
"Germany and France have the same analysis of the terrible consequences a NMD system could have on the ABM treaty." (Reuters, June 9, 2000)


Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany sided with the critics of the system, saying: "Neither economically nor politically can we afford a new round of the arms race. No one can dispute the Americans' right to develop what they believe is right for national defense. On the other hand, we are partners in a common alliance." (Berliner Zeitung, June 2, 2000)


European Commission President Romano Prodi on Thursday expressed concern over a plan by the United States to build a national missile defense (NMD) system. The NMD project could lead to an arms race, Prodi said in a meeting with Yukio Hatoyama, leader of Japan's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), party officials said. ("EU Chief Expresses Concern Over U.S. Missile Defense Plan," Xinhua, July 20)

Javier Solana, former secretary general of NATO: National missile defense could "strain trans-Atlantic links" or provoke a "a major crisis with Russia." Solana admonished: "You have to weigh the consequences for the rest of the world." (New York Times, May 2, 2000)


Anna Lindh, Swedish Foreign Minister: "The United States is making plans for a national missile defence system which might restart the nuclear missile race... Such a system could run ounter to efforts to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." (NPT Review Conference, April 25, 2000)


Donald Anderson, UK Member of Parliament and Chairman of the House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs: "[NMD] is wrong internationally and gives the illusion that it will give the US invulnerability. We should make crystal clear to the US that it cannot take our co-operation for granted . . . and express our scepticism." ("Westminster Backlash Over 'Son of Star Wars," August 3, 2000, London Daily Telegraph)

Robin Cook, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: The Government has repeatedly made clear that it values the stability which the ABM Treaty provides, and wishes to see it preserved ... At no point has the Government given the U.S. Administration reason to assume unqualified cooperation with NMD deployment: nor has the U.S. Administration at any stage sought such assurances." ("Weapons of Mass Destruction," October 24, 2000, Response to Foreign Affairs Committee Eighth Report)

N. Korea

The #1 "Rogue Nation" responds: NYTimes March 15, 2001,
North Korea Turns Up the Heat; Calls U.S. a Nation of Cannibals, By DON KIRK
North Korea today issued one of its toughest warnings against the United States since relations with South Korea began to thaw after the North-South summit meeting last year.

President Bush, in talks with the South Korean president, Kim Dae Jung, in Washington last week, expressed "skepticism" about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. Bush cited the Administration's allegation of a threat from North Korea as a large part of the reason for its determination to push ahead with building a missile shield.

Today, N. Korean spokesman called the United States a "cannibals' nation" and charging the Bush administration with "escalating its provocative and reckless diatribe" against the North. The Communists pledged a "thousandfold revenge" if "the U.S. imperialists turn to confrontation."

The Political and Scientific Case Against Star Wars

On March 24, 1983 President Ronald Reagan in a major speech to the nation, attempted to transmute the science fiction concept of a missile-proof shield above the entire US from the realm of moving-picture fantasy into the reality of the Cold War struggle between the US and the Soviet Union.

Perhaps only the President and a couple of advisors actually believed in the practical feasibility of the concept at the time of the announcement. However, the immediate purpose was to encourage the Congress and the public to continue the Administration's program of massive military buildup - despite growing budget deficits. In subsequent years, the Soviet Union has collapsed, revealing itself to have been a far less challenging threat (a fact which was concealed for years from the public by the Reagan Adminnistration and the CIA). In addition, the borrowing of over a trillion dollars to pay for the military buildup (and Reagan's tax cuts) caused a tripling of the national debt (from $750 Billion to $2.6 Trillion during the Reagan Administration).

The initial media reaction to President Reagan's Star Wars announcement is typified by the coverage in the NY Times:
Reagan Proposes U.S. Seek New Way to Block Missiles

President Reagan, defending his military program, proposed tonight to exploit advances in technology in coming decades so the United States can develop an effective defense against missiles launched by others.... to make obsolete the current United States policy of relying on massive retaliation by its ballistic missiles to counter the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack.... he coupled his proposal with his strongest appeal yet for his Administration's program to increase military spending.

The official said Reagan was aware that the Russians might fear that the United States was seeking a "first-strike" ability by seeking a defensive system. Tonight Reagan made an allusion to this danger, saying he recognized that "defensive systems" lead to "certain problems and ambiguities" and that "they can be viewed as fostering an aggressive policy and no one wants that."

Over the intervening two decades, it has become obvious that nothing approaching Reagan's fantasy is technologically feasible. The relatively simple device of decoy targets can thoroughly confuse any anti-missile missiles. Also, in the case of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, hundreds and thousands of missiles cannot be targeted, even if the decoys were eliminated. Nevertheless, backers of Star Wars have continued lobbying and the spending boondoggle has reached critical mass - where the research and advertising has gained the political equivalent of eternal life: the $1 billion budget.

Star Wars Lobby keeps the program alive

NY Times, June 13, 2000


WASHINGTON -- With $60 billion in potential business from an antimissile defense system .... Over the last decade, the arms industry has spent $49 million in campaign contributions to Washington politicians and an additional $2 million in a more subtle and indirect campaign that they say has helped create an atmosphere in which the pressure to build an antimissile system weights (sic) heavily on both parties.....

Leading the charge for missile defense is the Center for Security Policy, a group that has relied on military contractors for 20 to 35 percent of its annual budget, which is $1.2 million. Dedicated to having an antimissile system built, the center has at least eight industry representatives on its board -- six from Lockheed Martin alone -- and issues a steady stream of position papers and sponsors numerous seminars for Washington decision makers.... (Other arms industry contributors include:) Boeing, the prime contractor on the project, and the main subcontractors, Lockheed Martin and TRW. Other contractors who have contributed are General Dynamics, Rockwell International and Northrop Grumman. The contributions are tax deductible, meaning that the government, indirectly, bears some of the cost.... Staunch Republican supporters of missile defense like Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, both Republicans, are on the center's board

"From our inception, (the Center for Security Policy) has been a champion of national missile defense," said Frank J. Gaffney Jr., president of the group and a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration. In and out of government, Mr. Gaffney has long been the high priest of the Reagan missile-defense vision.

The ( Center for Security Policy) draws attention to those it considers friends. It gave its Keeper of the Flame award in 1998 to former Defense Secretary Donald M. Rumsfeld, head of a government commission that outlined the potential threat of a North Korean missile attack and provided the military justification for national missile defense. Other award winners were Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.

"It's no accident the Republican leadership is seized with the idea of national missile defense," Mr. Gaffney said. "It's a function of a lot of serious spade work and a lot of education from groups like ours."

Guess who's Secretary of Defense once again, under the Bush II Administration? Not coincidentally, none other than Donald M. Rumsfeld, back in the chair and helping George Junior continue the push for Star Wars! A missile defense system has long been a article of faith among Republican conservatives. It was the sole weapons system in the Contract With America. The weapons industry has given generously to Republicans, by a 2-to-1 margin over Democrats. In 1999, the arms industry gave the Republican Party and candidates $4.2 million. That compares with $2.5 million to Democrats. In the 1998 midterm elections, Republicans received $7.3 million, compared to $3.4 million for Democrats.

With the return of Reagan-era Cold War warriors to the US National Security Council (Condalica Rice), the Departments of Defense (Rumsfeld)( and State (Colin Powell), the Bush Administration is brushing aside all rational doubts about a credible threat of a missile attack: the technological inability and highly unlikely circumstance of a terrorist rogue nation with an insane leader who would be prepared to commit national suicide (from US retalliation), and the obviously simpler means of a suitcase biological or chemical weapon, or a Nuke in a shipping container, etc.

The irrationality of the case for Star Wars has not gone unchallenged by scientists and experts in foreign policy. In a major study of the issue under the Clinton Administration, released in July, 2000, opponents of missile defense assailed earlier reports by proponents:

The rules of classic intelligence analysis were altered, the officials said, to measure not whether countries were likely to threaten the United States, but whether they "could" do so. The officials said that change skewed the results toward the most alarming assessment.

"There's a lot of pressure from the Hill driving this process," said a longtime intelligence official involved in preparing the new report. "You end up with realms of possibility, including what is least likely to what is unthinkable. We are writing in worst-case language. Frankly, from my perspective, this is nonsense."

On the threat from an Insane Leader - the "Rogue Nation" theory - who commits national suicide, the report continues:

"The central question asked by many critics of the national missile defense is why its advocates appear to have discounted deterrence as a counter to the missile threat, even though deterrence governed American strategic thinking throughout the cold war."
(NY Times, July 5, 2000, "U.S. Study Reopens Division Over Nuclear Missile Threat" By ELAINE SCIOLINO and STEVEN LEE MYERS)
The study concludes that the only response to this central question is that deterrence is considered by Star Wars promoters to be no longer reliable when it comes to countries like North Korea, Iran and Iraq because the leaders of those countries are capable of irrational self-destructive behavior.

Surely such a questionable theory as mass suicidal tendencies as a basis for spending $60 billion and destabilizing the world's arms control balance deserves very serious examination. The following material is a sampling of what the leading scientists and foreign policy experts have to say about the science and logic of the Star Wars program:

NY Times, July 6, 2000
Nobel Winners Urge Halt to Missile Plan

A group of 50 Nobel laureates has signed an open letter to President Clinton urging him to reject a proposed $60 billion missile defense system. The group said the plan would be wasteful and dangerous.

"The system would offer little protection and would do grave harm to this nation's core security interests," the laureates wrote before the system's ground-based interceptor is tested on Friday.

All the signers are American citizens or have worked much of their lives in the United States.

The letter, to be sent today to the White House, was organized by the Federation of American Scientists, a group in Washington that opposes the missile plan. Although laureates occasionally band together in informal groups to address issues, it is unusual for so many to do so. Federation officials said the assembly might be the largest ever.

Hans A. Bethe, a Nobel winner in physics who was a main architect of the atom bomb, helped write the letter and was the first to sign. The others include 21 who won in physics, 11 in chemistry, 14 in biology or medicine and 4 in economics, representing about half of all living American science Nobel winners.

Leading scientists have also been outspoken in their criticism of the Pentagon's evaluation of the feasibility of Star Wars. After years of tinkering, the possibility of "hitting a bullet with a bullet, " continues to appear to be a science fiction fantasy. In their attempts to give the idea credibility, Star Wars supporters are accused of rigging test designs and falsifying data.

In a major survey of the results of anti-missile technology and testing, (Antimissile Testing Is Rigged to Hide a Flaw, Critics Say by William J. Broad and Rick Friedman, June 6, 2000, for The New York Times ) Theodore A. Postol, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and arms expert who obtained the Pentagon's antimissile testing plan, says all flight tests of the $60 billion weapon have been rigged to hide a fundamental flaw: The system cannot distinguish between enemy warheads and decoys. This assessment covers the four tests that have taken place as well as future tests up to the system's projected deployment in 2005.

Other technical experts who have seen it, including both antimissile and decoy designers, concurred with his criticism, as did a senior government official who has examined the Pentagon's testing plan. "It is clear to me," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, "that none of the tests address the reasonable range of countermeasures," or decoys that an enemy would use to try to outwit an antimissile weapon....

In interviews, Postal and other experts said that after the system failed to achieve this crucial discrimination goal against mock targets in its first two flight tests, the Pentagon substituted simpler and fewer decoys that would be easier for the antimissile weapon to recognize.

Pentagon officials strongly defended the testing program. Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish of the Air Force, director of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, denied that his program had engaged in any deception or dumbing down. Backing away from earlier hyping of Star Wars as a full-proof shield, General Kadish said the testing program would be extremely useful and the resulting weapon would defeat crude warheads launched by inexperienced nuclear powers that might emerge in the future, like Iran, Iraq or North Korea.

To the contrary, "any real attacker -- no matter how inexperienced -- would be able to easily outwit the weapon....(Pentagon officials) are systematically lying about the performance of a weapon system that is supposed to defend the people of the United States from nuclear attack," Dr. Postol said in an interview. In a draft report to the White House, Postal repeated, "All the program's interception tests have been carefully orchestrated to avoid encountering the discrimination problems."

"They did a good fox trot for the first couple of tests and then slowed down to a crawl," said Bob Dietz, a retired former designer of warhead decoys for American missiles. "You have to ask why they don't build better decoys. They've always said they'd get better with time."

Michael W. Munn, a retired scientist for the military contractor Lockheed and a pioneer in designing and testing antimissile weapons, said: "The only way to make it work is to dumb it down. There's no other way to do it. Discrimination has always been the No. 1 problem, and it will always remain that way."

Munn challenged the Army's claims of success during the Persian Gulf War for its Patriot antimissile system, saying it had, in fact, destroyed no Iraqi missiles at all. Though the Pentagon at first denied his assertion, it later conceded that initial reports of the Patriot success had been exaggerated.

And, sure enough, a few weeks later, on July 8, 2000, the results of a "make or break test" of Star Wars feasibility, the press reported:

Antimissile System Fails Over Pacific, Pentagon Reports

By ELAINE SCIOLINO 07/08/00 ASHINGTON, Saturday, July 8 --

In a major setback for the Clinton administration's plan to build a missile shield to protect American soil from enemy attack, a missile fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific failed to hit a mock warhead launched 4,300 miles away in California. ...

In October, the Pentagon initially hailed its first intercept test as a complete success. But it later was forced to acknowledge that the kill vehicle initially had drifted off course and picked out the large bright decoy balloon instead of the mock warhead.

Even before the failure today, critics said the new test was a misleading guide because it was taking place under conditions that do not reflect a real attack. They said the decoy was not a true decoy but was more like a lure that attracts the kill vehicle to the real target, and that an adversary would use many decoys, not one.

In conclusion, what can anyone do to kill Reagan's legacy before it kills us -- or drives us into bankruptcy? Speak out and let your media and public officials hear your doubts!