Friday, October 26, 2007


I am amused by Vladimir Putin's comparison of repurcussions of the proposed US missile shield being possibly akin to the Cuban Missile Crisis. While the analogy sounds laughable and Putin is increasingly seen as no friend of democracy, the amusement is because whatever the reason for his ramblings, they make sense.

I am a little amazed at how more people in the US are not speaking up against the missile shield which will clearly roil the region and US perceptions abroad, especially during this time when US popularity is already execrably low and everyone in the world is wary of any US intrusions abroad. It is unacceptable to allow the Bush administration to create more threat inflation (hardly a new American tactic) trespass on foreign territory and spend billions more of tax dollars by citing some ludicrous future threat about North Korean and Iranian missiles, while small terrorist groups and homegrown terror continue to thrive and remain the primary threat. I think the Iraq war is as much of a travesty as can be incurred for taxpayers' money and it should be appalling that the administration wants to go gung-ho on more national security rhetoric and weapons spending.

I have already talked about the sordid and expensive history of US missile defense as well as its misguided purposes and technical infeasibility. What's even worse is that in the presence of short range missiles launched from ships near the US coast (a much bigger possibility than ICBMs), the proposed missile system will be even more farther than the previously proposed National Missile Defense system, thus being unable to protect the nation. In this particular case, physicist Richard Garwin has penned an insightful article in Scientific American that's worth reading. Garwin is an eminent scientist, protege of Enrico Fermi who worked on the hydrogen bomb, and a distinguished and dominant voice in four decades of US military and science policy. He reiterates the points above:
"What is more, the primary missile threat to the U.S. is not ICBMs. If a nation such as North Korea or Iran is intent on attacking an American city, it is far more likely to do so using short-range missiles launched from ships near the U.S. coasts. In a press briefing in 2002 Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld noted: "Countries have placed ballistic missiles in ships--dime a dozen--all over the world. At any given time, there's any number off our coasts, coming, going. On transporter-erector-launchers, they simply erect it, fire off a ballistic missile, put it down, cover it up. Their radar signature's not any different than 50 others in close proximity." Despite this acknowledgment, however, the Defense Department has no system planned for deployment that could defend against these missiles."
What I always feel is ironic and tragic is that in the midst of all the proposals of the Bush administration to increase national security, not only is American credibility being further eroded in the world and taxpayers' dollars being sapped from valuable domestic programs, but the country is actually becoming less safe than before because of the misguided policies and perceived belligerence of its government.

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Anonymous Vivek Gupta said...

Check out Kasparov's interview on Bill Maher. He is on a book interview in US and using every opportunity to blast Putin's regime.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Yes, and I loved Chris Matthews's comment "That's why they play chess and we play checkers". Seriously, even most American politicians are not half as articulate and sophisticated as he appeared. Seems he is a genius not just in chess.

12:34 PM  

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