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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Is A Death Wish Flying Below Our Radar?

The old saying that goes:
Look, in the sky. It's bird, it's a plane, it's a FROG.

may, in the near future, not refer to TV's Underdog. Rather, it could refer to one way by which Russia could neutralize what it sees as a legitimate threat from the US, America's missile shield in Eastern Europe. We should note that the term 'FROG' here is a tactical nuclear weapon. And we should also note that in 2008, several Russian leaders threatened to use such weapons should American missile defense bases be placed in nations that were too close to Russia's border. The Russian concern here was that such bases were more of a threat to Russia's security than a way to protect Europe from a then nonexistent Iranian missile threat.

Had we put such defense bases in Eastern Europe back in 2008, we could have been facing a new missile crisis that would be on par with the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. We should note that back then, there was more than one time when we came close to engaging in a full-scale nuclear war with Russia. The issue was not just that we caught the Soviets redhanded in building a first strike capability in Cuba; the issue was why could the US put nuclear armed missiles on the USSR's border in Turkey while the Soviets were being challenged when they tried to return the favor in Cuba. Part of the agreement that led to the Soviets' removal of their missiles in Cuba was that we would do the same in Turkey. And what was peculiar to us then was that our government saw its placement of missiles near another nation's border as provocative.

So now we fast forward to today and discover that the US has activated its missile defense shield supposedly for the purpose of stopping missile attacks from Iran on Eastern Europe. The problem here is that there is still no such credible missile threat from Iran. Rather, fear has caused some to deduce that if Iran has ballistic missiles, then there is a good chance that it would use them. Alternative explanations for such our missile defense shield do exist. One such explanation was givern by Noam Chomsky back in 2008 (see here):
The main specialist they called in, I think from the Pentagon or somewhere, pointed out, accurately, that a missile defense system is essentially a first-strike weapon. That is well known by strategic analysts on all sides. If you think about it for a minute, it’s obvious why. A missile defense system is never going to stop a first strike, but it could, in principle, if it ever worked, stop a retaliatory strike.

So now we should understand Putin's concern regarding the American placement of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. 

Fortunately, the response by Russia's leaders in 2016 to the activation of America's missile shield near the Russian border  has been more restrained than the responses made in 2008 (click here, there, and there again). But unfortunately, America seems do demonstrate a deliberate obliviousness to how many of its actions could be seen as threats and  provocations. Again, an example of such an actions was our placement of nuclear missiles in Turkey which preceded and percipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was. Thus, the activation of the US missile shield in Romania is proof that American swagger is back. Unfortunately it shows that we haven't a clue regarding the risks that that swagger puts the world in.

In addition, regarding Iran, it would, in principle at least, stop it from developing any deterent capacity to a first strike from one of its enemies like Israel. So that Iran would be at the mercy of Israel or some Western nation. and it would be more likely that the missile shield could make Iran more susceptible to threats, extortion, and attacks from the West. It is not likely that this attempt to stop Iran from developing a deterent capacity would totally succeed since there are multiple ways Iran could use to retaliate such as employing terrorism on our soil. 

In the end, all of these acts of provocation and responses are simply another way of the world's leaders playing the dangerous game of Russian Roulette. And while we are too busy worrying about guess who is coming to our bathrooms and trying to battle real threats like ISIS and imaginary ones like Iran's nuclear capabilities, this new threat to our present and future has, for the most part, gone unnoticed by the general public.




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