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George Monbiot: US facilities in Europe to shoot down Russian missiles

29.6.2008 - George Monbiot, The Guardian

(...) the purpose of the missile defence system is "to address the emerging threat from rogue states". This is a claim that only an idiot or a member of the British government could believe. If, as Browne and Bush maintain, the system is meant to shoot down intercontinental missiles fired by Iran and North Korea (missiles, incidentally, that they do not and might never possess), why are its major components being installed in Poland and the Czech Republic? To bait the Russian bear for fun?

In June, Vladimir Putin called Bush's bluff by offering sites for the missile defence programme in Azerbaijan and southern Russia, which are much closer to Iran. Bush turned him down and restated his decision to build the facilities in eastern Europe, making it clear that their real purpose is to shoot down Russian missiles.

Nor is it strictly true to call this a defence system. Russia has around 5,700 active nuclear warheads. The silos in Poland will contain just 10 interceptor missiles. The most likely strategic purpose of the missile defence programme is to mop up any Russian or Chinese missiles that had not been destroyed during a pre-emptive US attack. Far from making the world a safer place, its purpose is to make the annihilation of another country a safer proposition.

This strategic purpose takes second place to a more immediate interest. Because it doesn't yet work, missile defence is the world's biggest pork barrel. The potential for spending is unlimited. First, a number of massive - and possibly insuperable - technical problems must be overcome. Then it must constantly evolve to respond to the counter-measures Russia and China will deploy: multiple warheads, dummy missiles, radar shields, chaff, balloons and God knows what. For the US arms industry, technical failure means permanent commercial success.


Source (British): The Guardian

George Monbiot (* 1963) is an environmentalist awarded by the United Nations, (investigative) journalist, academic and an author of at least two bestsellers. He lectured at Oxford, Bristol, Keele and East London, now he is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University.

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