Published on
The Edmonton Sun (Canada)

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Donna Marie-Artuso

In an apparent last-ditch effort to expand the country's national missile defence (NMD) capabilities before he leaves office, President George W. Bush has declared "a real and urgent need" to take action that will protect the United States and its allies from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Oh wait, not Iraq! Iran! To protect the United States and its allies from weapons of mass destruction in Iran. To wit, ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States.

There isn't really any hard evidence to support the president's belief that Iran has these ballistic missiles or that they represent an imminent threat, but he undoubtedly trusts his instincts for getting this kind of thing right.

Either it's deja vu all over again or he's pandering to American's industrial and military complex for which NDM represents gazillions of dollars.

The multi-billion dollar weaponization of space, was first envisioned by president Ronald Reagan.

Destroyed in Space

It calls for the development of a fantastic defensive system with ultra-sophisticated radar that has a near instantaneous ability to recognize when a missile has been launched against the U.S. and launch counter-measures to intercept and destroy the weapon it while it's still in space.

Cool or what?

Phase One was widely called "Star Wars" (to invoke the image of the fantastic futuristic capabilities of Luke Skywalker), and established NMD interceptors in Alaska and California, mainly to protect the continental states from being attacked by Korea, rogue states or an accidental launch.

While President Bush was swift to reassure the country "that we got (sic) a lot of really smart people working on this project and proving it can work," there have been some hard-to-overlook shall we say glitches with the system, the first being that it is not necessarily able to distinguish between real missiles and decoy missiles, and perhaps turkey buzzards.

And when it does, it doesn't always intercept them.

"Star Wars -- the Sequel," as being promoted by President Bush is a $4.04-billion program that would place a ground-based mid-course defence (GMD) element of the NMD system in Poland and the Czech Republic to protect America's allies in Europe against this newly declared threat of a nuclear strike from Tehran.

Critics in Europe

According to a report released in July by the Congressional Research Service: "The proposed system has encountered resistance in some European countries and beyond. Critics in Poland and the Czech Republic assert that neither country currently faces a notable threat from Iran, but that if American GMD facilities were installed, both countries might be targeted by missiles from rogue states, and possibly Russia.

"Some Europeans claim that that GMD is another manifestation of American unilateralism and assert that the Bush administration did not consult sufficiently with NATO allies or with Russia."

To be sure Vladimir Putin isn't a fan of NMD.

He fears that "Star Wars -- the Sequel" will upset U.S.-Russian-European relations and reignite an arms race.

The Russian president has agreed to co-operate only if the NMD facilities were built in Azerbaijan -- not Eastern Europe.

Clearly, he is a clever fellow for he knows exactly what the Bush administration would say if he announced that Russia was going to install an anti-ballistic missile system in Cuba to protect North America from North Korean missiles.

It would be wholly unacceptable to the U.S., and of course Canada whose position on NMD has never changed.

We're against the militarization of space in principle and practice, regardless of who the U.S. declares as its enemy du jour.

-- Donna Marie-Artuso

Copyright © 2007, Canoe Inc.

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