Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Dangerous Hawks Of Space

By Cernig

Two long-term neoconservative hawks who belong to the Bolton "diplomacy has failed" school of nonproliferation thinking and have been influential in Republican policymaking on nuclear matters since Reagan's halcyon Star Wars days have penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal extolling the virtues of missile defense.

J.D. Crouch III and Robert Joseph, both former Bush administration officials intimately involved with nuclear weapons and nonproliferation policy until the Bolton school fell out of favor, spend several paragraphs extolling Bush's courage on matters such as invading Iraq, pushing for the Surge and expanding the surveillance state then write:

Mr. Bush has faced so many tough choices over the last seven years that his decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has been at least partially forgotten. Yet this decision, announced in December 2001, was no less consequential. It also defied the critics who argued that it would lead to a new arms race, increase nuclear proliferation and ruin cooperation with Russia on nuclear arms control and terrorism.

None of these things have happened as a result of the ABM Treaty withdrawal. But the decision will enable us to counter a still-growing 21st century threat.
They hope no-one notices that all of these things happened as a result of the ABM treaty withdrawal. Russia has begun development and production of new missiles designed to circumvent future US missile defenses, withdrawn from key treaties including one which limits conventional forces in Europe and stated clearly that it does not regard Iran, for one, as a nuclear threat to the world. Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev are in accord that the withdrawal from the ABM treaty was a major contributory influence on Russias positions and that U.S. withdrawal from that treaty was a major mistake that signalled the Bush adminsitration's status as a loose cannon.

But, undeterred, they now want the U.S. to withdraw unilaterally from another crucial treaty - the one on space-based weaponry.
Finally, we must look again at space as a place to deploy interceptors.

There is no question that space provides the highest leverage against the missile threat: Targets are more visible, more accessible and more vulnerable when attacked from space. While there are concerns about "weaponizing space," these pale in comparison to the increasing vulnerability of U.S. space-based satellites by weapons from the ground traversing space. The recent Chinese anti-satellite test was a wake-up call.

Space-based interceptors, like those proposed by former President George H. W. Bush in 1991, have the potential to strengthen missile defense, and to provide protection for key intelligence and communications assets in space that are now vulnerable from ground-based attack.
Yet again, Crouch and Joseph want to ignore facts to get to further their agenda. As Dr. Jeffrey Lewis wrote of the Chines ASAT test at the time:
If China has conducted an ASAT test, this is extremely bad. I had been hoping that the Bush Administration would push for a ban on anti-satellite testing, either in the form of a code of conduct or some rules of road. The Bush folks, however, have been fond of saying that wasn’t necessary, because “there is no arms race in space.”
The Bush folks in question here include Crouch and Joseph - but now they want to use the arms race in space they say isn't happening to further their argument for more of an arms race in space, instead of pursuing an international treaty ban on ASAT weaponry. Huh?

So who are these people exactly? Well, J.D. Crouch III is the man who in a 1999 letter to the Washington Times, blamed the Columbine High School massacre on "30 years of liberal social policy that has put our children in day care, taken God out of the schools, taken Mom out of the house, and banished Dad as an authority figure from the family altogether". Robert Joseph is the one who insisted on the inclusion of the famous 16 words in Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons development and efforts to buy uranium from Niger. Both they and their think-tank (which is lavishly funded by arms manufacturers and hawkish rightwing foundations) have been intimately involved in every hawkish attempt to walk away from international arms control accords and foster a policy of war instead of diplomacy since the Reagan administration. They simply aren't credible advocates for their cause.

Which doesn't stop Murdoch's WSJ from giving them room to do so, in furtherance of a policy of lying to the public and lawmakers so as to militarise space - a policy which has also been proposed by the likes of the neoconservative Heritage Institute. It's most obvious current symptom is the way in which the Bush administration has hyped and spun the threat from nations like Iran to further the missile shield program. The arguments against it are no different now that when it was first proposed in the wake of Rumsfield's 1998 Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (which said that nations like Iran would have missile-mounted nukes within five years - an eventuality which still hasn't come about):
Melvin Goodman, a noted expert on proliferation issues at the National War College, said: "Should the system work or, more likely, should the international community perceive that the United States can make it work, a series of national security problems will ensue. Ties between Russia and China will improve; the angry reaction of our European allies will weaken our leadership of NATO; we will weaken our counterproliferation and disarmament policies; and we will lose our limited leverage on the nuclear policies of India and Pakistan. Thus, any U.S. decision to pursue [national missile defense] will have negative consequences for most aspects of U.S. national security" (see "Pro and Con: 'The Case For National Missile Defense' and 'The Case Against National Missile Defense,'" Safe Foundation).
These people are scarily dangerous to U.S. and world security and shouldn't be ignored or allowed free rein. The costs are potentially too high to calculate.