Guest Opinion

Washington, Kiss Your Silly Missile Defense Goodbye

F. William Engdahl
New Eastern Outlook
March 22, 2016


Americans rarely excell at the game of chess in the manner that many Russians do. The last great world-class chess master from the United States was Bobby Fischer whose zenith was reached in 1971. Mostly, over the past several decades, Washington has relied on an arrogant brute force–might makes right–to push its globalist agenda for what Michael Ledeen, a neo-conservative, once called Universal Fascism. It means total, absolute control of people, nations, trade flows, of life itself by a global corporativist cartel. The ultimate US brute force game against her long-standing nemesis, Russia, is creation of a “missile shield” aimed at Russia. In 2007, George W. Bush announced Washington was going to deploy what it called Ballistic Missile Defense. It was more or less the beginning of deep and now fundamental distrust by Russia and by Vladimir Putin of Washington’s honesty and her intentions. Now Moscow, in what appears a brilliant chess move, unveils a surprise response.


A brief look at the situation at the beginning of the 1990’s as the Soviet Union was deconstructed, is useful to understand the dynamics of Russian foreign and military policy today.

US Secretary of State James Baker III met with the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and gave him a pledge that, in return for the Soviets allowing the two Germanys to reunite, Washington would never extend NATO eastward.

In response to that solemn US pledge, the formerly formidable Soviet Union, now a vastly reduced Russian Federation, promised Washington and NATO that it would systematically dismantle its nuclear arsenal. Toward that end, the Russian Duma ratified a Start II Treaty for reduction of actively deployed nuclear weapons. They made the ratification contingent on both the US and Russia’s adhering to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which prohibited deployment of an active missile defense shield by either side.

‘Using The Right Hand To Reach The Left Ear’

On December 13, 2001 US President George W. Bush announced to the consternation of Moscow that Washington was going to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It was quietly going ahead with a pet project of Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, construction of a US Ballistic Missile Defense system. Typically, most Americans were kept in the dark about what a danger was being created by Washington with that unilateral abrogation of the treaty.

In July 1998, a time when nuclear ballistic missile threats to the United States were remote or even non-existent, Rumsfeld had delivered a report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States to President Bill Clinton. The Rumsfeld Commission Report outlined what it viewed as the strategic danger to the United States:

Concerted efforts by a number of overtly or potentially hostile nations to acquire ballistic missiles…pose a growing threat to the United States…These newer, developing threats in North Korea, Iran and Iraq are in addition to those still posed by the existing ballistic missile arsenals of Russia and China… (emphasis added-w.e.)

In 2004 Don Rumsfeld also implemented CONPLAN 8022 that again put US Air Force long-range B-52 and other bombers on ‘Alert’ status as at the height of the Cold War. The Commander of the 8th Air Force stated that his nuclear bombers were “essentially on alert to plan and execute Global Strikes,” on behalf of the US Strategic Command or STRATCOM, based in Omaha, Nebraska.

CONPLAN 8022 included not only long-range nuclear and conventional weapons launched from the US, but also nuclear and other bombs deployed in Europe, including at Buchel Airbase in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany, in Japan and other sites. CONPLAN8022 gave the US what the Pentagon termed “Global Strike” — the ability to hit any point on the earth or sky with devastating force, nuclear as well as conventional.

CONPLAN8022 went virtually unreported in US media. Moscow certainly took note, however.

Then in early 2007 the third step–development of a US Ballistic Missile Defense system across EU countries–was unveiled. That made it clear to Russia’s military and political leadership that Washington was developing a long-term strategy to militarily encircle and potentially obliterate the Russian Federation in a developing game of thermonuclear chicken. Now alarm bells of potential nuclear showdown a la Kubrick’s legendary film, Dr. Strangelove, were sounding in the Kremlin.

On January 29, 2007 US Army Brigadier General Patrick J. O`Reilly, Deputy Director of the Pentagon`s Missile Defense Agency, announced US plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system in Europe by 2011. The Pentagon claimed that the deployment was aimed at protecting American and NATO installations against threats from enemies in the Middle East, notably Iran, and not from Russia.

In February, 2007 at the annual International Conference on Security in Munich, Russia’s President Putin delivered a speech that laid bare the true motives of Washington on its new missile defense in Europe. Destroying the arguments and Washington’s lying claims that it was aimed at “rogue states” or problem countries, Iran and North Korea, Putin declared:

Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometers that really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem countries. And in the near future…this… is not even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean rocket to American territory through Western Europe obviously contradicts the laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear. v

Despite Washington’s insistence that its new planned Missile Defense was only defensive and aimed at “rogue states” like Iran or North Korea, in actual military fact it was not defensive at all, but a major offensive gain for Washington in any future military showdown with Moscow. The February 2014 US military coup d’etat in Kiev and subsequent hostile Washington acts against Russia have brought such a military showdown much closer than many realize.

In 2007 Washington began stationing US controlled nuclear-capable missiles in NATO-member Poland, and anti-missile phased array advanced radar detecting systems in NATO member Czech Republic. It was aimed at the one nuclear power on Earth with the sophisticated nuclear ability to launch an effective counter-strike–the Russian Federation. China’s nuclear arsenal at that point did not pose a comparable threat.

BMD: Offensive not Defensive

In a January 2006 London Financial Times interview, then-US NATO Ambassador, Victoria Nuland, the same Nuland who ran the US coup in Kiev in 2014, stated regarding the new Pentagon doctrine of “Global Strike,” that Interviewed by London’s Financial Times, the US Ambassador to NATO, former Cheney advisor, Victoria Nuland, declared that the US wanted a “globally deployable military force” that would operate everywhere – from Africa to the Middle East and beyond—“all across our planet.” vi

Global Strike combined with Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) from the US side was creating an alarming imbalance in the strategic relation between Russia and the USA.

Far from being “defensive,” BMD is offensive in the extreme.

Washington was serious. “Missile defense” projects emerged in the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan proposed developing systems of satellites in space, as well as radar bases listening stations, and interceptor missiles around the globe, all designed to monitor and shoot down Soviet nuclear missiles before they hit their intended targets.

It was dubbed ‘Star Wars’ by its critics, but the Pentagon officially had spent more than $130 billion on developing the system by 2002. George W. Bush, beginning in 2002, increased that amount significantly. Between 2002 and 2014 the Government watchdog General Accounting Organization estimated the US Government had spent another $98 billion developing a ballistic missile defense system. That’s excluding the untold billions which were being diverted to missile defense under secret Pentagon ‘black box’ budgets.

Important to know is that the US missile defense is not at all defensive. It is offensive in the extreme.

If the United States were able to shield itself effectively from a potential Russian retaliation from a US nuclear First Strike, the logic of nuclear war, then the US would be able to dictate its terms to the entire world, not just to Russia. That would be Nuclear Primacy. That was the real meaning of Putin’s unusual Munich 2007 speech. He wasn’t paranoid. He was being starkly realistic.

Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman, who had been Director of the US Air Force Missile Defense Program during the Reagan era, in a telephone interview with this author shortly before his death, called missile defense, “the missing link to a First Strike.”  The Pentagon calls it Nuclear Primacy. Whatever the name it is bad for the world and the future of civilization.

Russia’s chess surprise

Now Russia has revealed a surprise, a brilliant form of checkmate as in chess. They announced an answer to Washington’s expanding Ballistic Missile “Defense” sites that today exist not only in Poland and the Czech Republic but also in Romania and Turkey.

Russia’s government has just announced that it has developed a new “bleeding edge” missile technology that would make the hundreds of billions in dollars that the USA has spent on encircling Russia (and China) with BMD installations utterly worthless. It’s a new ultra-advanced ICBM called RS-26.

Russia’s advanced RS-26 intercontinental ballistic missile has a range of 11,000 km. For illustration, Washington DC is 7843 kilometers from Moscow. The new RS-26 also is capable of a continuously changing trajectory, meaning that it can penetrate even the most advanced missile defense shields. According to a report in the Chinese media after their military leaders were shown a demonstration, even though it weighs just 80 tons, compared to the 120-ton RS-24 Yars predecessor, the Rubezh loads a frightening 1,2 megatons into its four 300 kiloton warheads. Moreover, its booster stage is under five minutes, which means that NATO radars in Europe will have no time to register the launch.

Adding to NATO BMD problems, during the descending section of its trajectory, at only a few hundred kilometers to the target, the missile’s warheads suddenly take a dive, lose altitude, and continue the approach as a cruise missile.

Now in this light a recent statement by Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, regarding the announced US deployment of upgraded US B61-12 nuclear bombs in Europe takes on an interesting new light. Ulyanov, without elaborating, told a recent press conference in Moscow, “the Russian reaction to the deployment of new US bombs will be adequate, and its parameters will be determined by a thorough analysis of all circumstances…”

If the recent Russian military intervention in Syria demonstrated one thing to the world, it is that the Russian military capability today bears little or no resemblance to that of the 1980’s when TOW-missile-toting barbarians called Mujahideen, backed by the CIA and US Special Forces and billions of US dollars, managed to drive the Red Army from Afghanistan. It’s now time to end these silly wargames that have Washington so obsessed. It would be far healthier for us to turn our swords–and nuclear bombers–into plowshares.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, where this article first appeared. Used with permission from the publisher.

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