Sunday, February 27, 2005

Missile Defence in the Great White North

Prime Minister Martin has just announced that Canada will not be participating in the American "missile defence" programme - and he only took 2 years to decide!

This is good news for Canada, to the extent that we are not supporting the creation of a powerful first strike weapon that will finally give America the edge it could never achieve with clumsy nuclear weapons. (That's right first strike - more later)

"But wait!", as Rex Murphy (Canada's "beloved national curmudgeon") said many times tonight on Cross Country Checkup, a national CBC radio call-in show; "What's wrong with defending against rogue missiles?" Ha ha, nothing Rex, the question is, and you'd know that if you had done any research prior to the show - instead of relying on your quick tongue, and ready quip - the question is, "What's wrong with American global hegemony?"; because that's what we'll have 15 seconds after Star Wars goes on-line. As soon as the night sky is filled with glittering lasers, energy weapons, and kinetic kill vehicles, Bush 43 will call the Chinese to tell them their missiles are not much good anymore, but that his American missiles work just fine, oh and by the way, Hu or Wen or whatever they call you over there, you work for me now. The world will lay prostrate under such an "umbrella" of death.

That's why Star Wars II is secretly planned as a space based first strike weapon - because whoever owns the new high ground - wins. Which is why it is so destabilizing. Just as Israel cannot "allow" the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons, the Chinese, and even the Russians cannot allow the Americans to acquire first strike capability either.

Everything I just said about Star Wars is wrong because it can never work...

The only response to a putative missile defence is a good counter-measure. The problem for the neo-cons is that counter-measures are fairly easy - given the fact that missile defence is almost impossible anyway due to the extreme physics of the targeting solutions. The neo-cons are in total denial about this of course; either that or they don't care as it rakes in so much money and power for them and what used to be called the "military industrial complex", but is today called the Bush White House.

To read more about the physics, and the extraordinary difficulty involved in shooting hypersonic thermonuclear warheads with anti-missiles, energy weapons and the like, read Dr. Theodore Postol - who until he pointed out that the emperor had no clothes, was a top researcher in the field of missile defence and had done a lot of work for the Pentagon.

They could smuggle the bomb inside a bale of marijuana...

Postol essentially makes an airtight case why missile defence can never work. Not even in theory. Even if it did work - all a "enemy" or a "terrorist" would have to do - as the late Carl Sagan said, is to smuggle a bomb inside a bale of marijuana! I would add that any number of good Mexican "coyotes" - the people smugglers of Mexican border, could probably lend a hand too.

Which brings us back to American global dominance according to PNAC and the neo cons, who figure it's only right that America should run the show. They all know you can't defend against missiles, the Pentagon knows, Shrub knows, Cheney knows, that counter measures will always defeat any system. And lets forget the single rogue missile argument as being ridiculous - no one would commit national suicide that way. So if it won't work and shrub can't make that smirking call to Premier Hu, then what?

Space based weapons will give America the capacity to destroy, from space, any nation, any target - using all of the above weapons - only against ground and sea-based targets. A meter long depleted uranium rod shot from space at a ground based target, would arrive seconds from launch and have the kinetic energy to vaporise a battleship (or an abortion clinic).

No, Star Wars II won't give the Yanks auto-hegemony - but it will go a long way down that road. Of course the added benefit of a new arms race is that it will help slow the asian tiger and wound the ascending Russian bear - plus it's good for Haliburton, Boeing, and General Electric. After all, contrary to what most people believe about the senile Reagan "defeating" communism (a child's story) , the cold war was won simply by outspending the Russians. The Americans throughout the whole cold war, never spent more than 6% of their GDP on defence! Just to be a poor second to the American death machine, the Sovs were forced to spend up to 29% (by some estimates) of a much smaller GDP.

So Mr. Dithers (Paul Martin) made the correct decision - but probably only for the basest of political reasoning - his own survival. At least for now we won't be treated the spectacle of good Canadian soldiers serving on the Bush family Death Star anytime soon.

1 comment:

Andrew Greenlaw said...

Absolutely Brilliant Commentary on missile defence, Bill!

It's too bad. For all that you did a great job of "step back & look at the big picture -- from different players' points of view", I wish someone in the mainstream media would do that!

I was surprised when Celluci & Martin framed missile defence participation determining whether Canada would be involved in a "launch" decision. It seems like they're getting distracted. The real questions are what kind of thinking or intentions was behind the decision to build it; and whether the system can be made to work before someone finds a way to defeat it; and raise the arms race bar yet again.