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NAGOYA, Dec 17 2007 (IPS) - The real reason for the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) the US wants to place in Poland and Czech Republic is Washington\’s perverse desire to be able to wage and win a nuclear war, writes Jan Oberg, director and co-founder of the Transnational Foundation (TFF) in Lund, Sweden, and peace and conflict researcher. In this article, Oberg writes that BMD represents a fundamental break with deterrence because it aims to prevent affected countries from successfully retaliating against a hypothetical first nuclear strike by the US, making it possible to fight and win a nuclear war without any harm to itself. Since September 11, 2001, no one uses the word terror in reference to nuclear weapons despite the fact that they dwarf the threats (pretended or real) from today\’s \’\’terrorism\’\’. Humanity\’s main problem is not nuclear proliferation and, thus, not Iraq and Iran, but the very existence of nuclear weapons. What the binding Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) actually says is that proliferation to non-nuke countries shall stop as a quid pro quo for nuclear abolition by the nuclear powers. The US, Russia, France, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, the UK are the problem — not Iran or Iraq or North Korea.
The pretext for the system is the possibility of missile attacks by Iran. Russia opposes the idea because it feels threatened. The real reason for BMD is the United States’ perverse desire to be able to wage and win a nuclear war, formulated as the Nuclear Use Theory (NUT). BMD constitutes a fundamental break with the logic of nuclear deterrence, or Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), that the world has lived with since 1945.
Undoubtedly provocative, the philosophy of MAD and NUT goes like this:
Imagine two nuclear parties, A and B, pitted against each other. Each has its arsenal of nuclear weapons distributed among silos on the ground, planes, and submarines — the so-called ”triad”. Suppose A launches a first nuclear strike. Because it cannot be sure of destroying all of B’s nukes however many weapons it uses, it is taking a calculated risk that B will be able to retaliate with a second strike that could kill millions of A’s citizens and destroy its command centres. Theorising about a third and a fourth strike would be absurd: the first alone amounts to omnicide, the killing of all living creatures.
The psycho-political and philosophical assumption underlying MAD is this: party A will be deterred from starting a nuclear war because it will undoubtedly provoke retaliation by B and thus massive fatalities.
In effect, the launching of even one nuclear weapon is suicide. MAD was also called the Balance of Terror. In the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), Russia and the US agreed to protect only their capitals but leave the rest of their land vulnerable. That was the deterring fact!
There are three important observations to be made here:
First, MAD was built on a series of assumptions about human psychology, existence, and technical capabilities that are highly debatable and whose validity could be tested only in the event of a nuclear war.
Second, MAD amounted to a form of terror in the plainest sense of the word: taking innocent people hostage and harming or killing them.
Third, after September 11, 2001, no one uses the word terror in reference to nuclear weapons despite the fact that they dwarf the threats, pretended or real, from today’s ”terrorism”.
Every state that has nuclear weapons is, by definition, a terrorist state. That’s why even the UN definition of terrorism specifies the violence of small groups against society or the state but not state violence against its own citizens and other states. If there were a real war against terror, nuclear abolition would be its top priority.
BMD represents a fundamental break with deterrence because it aims to prevent B from successfully retaliating against A’s people and territory. If A has the capacity to both destroy B and foil its retaliation, A can assume that it can fight and win a nuclear war without any harm to itself, which lowers the deterrence threshold.
In addition, A might may even be encouraged to launch a first strike and preemptively destroy the other side because the cost to itself looks smaller than under the assumptions of MAD.
BMD would also be likely to stimulate a new arms race. Party B and other secondary nuclear powers would all try to stock up on nuclear weapons to insure that at least some would get through A’s ”shield” in their efforts to retaliate against A’s first strike.
Party A in this hypothetical scenario is, of course, the United States. It is the only country in human history that relies on such a NUT theory, develops the technology for it, and formulates an official doctrine about using nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear countries.
If the US ever implemented this terrorist policy, the result would be worse than what millions of bin Ladens could inflict. It amounts to mega-terrorism.
Citizens and governments around the world are protesting the BMD, Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic in particular. Greenland is part of the plan (Thule) but the Greenlanders were not informed. Japan is too, but it is a non-issue because Japan isn’t a sovereign state when it comes to foreign policy.
These public protests come despite the fact that the majority of the media, knowingly or not, support the offensive posture and cruelty of the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, which wants to avoid a much-needed critical debate about BMD.
Humanity’s main problem is not nuclear proliferation and, thus, not Iraq and Iran. The real problem is the very existence of nuclear weapons. What the binding Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) actually says is that proliferation to non-nuke countries shall stop as a quid pro quo for nuclear abolition by the nuclear powers. The US, Russia, France, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, the UK are the problem — not Iran or Iraq or North Korea.
The only ethical and sustainable response to BMD and every new nuclear weapons system is immediate nuclear abolition. The mainstream media and the scholarly community, which both profess to rely on freedom, must take up that challenge before it is too late. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)
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