Voices from Russia

Sunday, 30 November 2008

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Reason for Worry



The Pentagon is stricken with panic. Dark clouds have gathered in the sky over a programme which has, for a quarter of a century now, generated billions upon billions of dollars for those whom the great President Dwight D Eisenhower described as the military-industrial complex of America. President-elect Barack Obama refrained from pledging continued action under what’s known as the Strategic Defence Initiative. He chose words with utmost care every time he would mention that pet project of his predecessors in the course of his electoral campaign. He said the Strategic Defence Initiative could survive if it could prove its effectiveness. That he sticks to that position was confirmed by his aide Denis McDonough. According to Mr McDonough, President-elect Obama wants the new technologies to prove their effectiveness. The director of the Washington-headquartered Antimissile Defence Agency, Air Force Lieutenant General Henry Obering, was quick to say that existing plans for antimissile defence are feasible and that he’d let Mr Obama know this. I can’t help noticing that a fairly vague word, “feasible”, was used by the definitely-annoyed Lieutenant General Obering. The director of the American anti-missile defence programme refrained from the use of stronger words. It wasn’t that this high-ranking member of the outgoing Administration was afraid of saying the wrong thing to supposedly change-hungry Mr Obama. It’s because the Pentagon is still looking for a way to prove it’s made good use of the decades of painstaking efforts and enormous allocations for its highly-ambitious strategic defence initiative. It’s looking for a way to prove that the USA has an impenetrable anti-missile umbrella.

Ronald Reagan got used to the idea of “Star Wars” in Hollywood, and the great physicist Edward Teller convinced him of the feasibility of the star wars project. The Strategic Defence Initiative was launched in 1983, but, Professor Teller would soon see that he’d made a mistake. An honest scholar, he tried to talk President Reagan out of the highly-demanding project. He tried hard, but got nowhere. The Strategic Defence Initiative landed in the lap of military-industrial corporations, which were only too happy to sign up for it. Fifty celebrated scholars of America, Nobel Prize winners, all of them, tried to use the combined weight of their distinguished personal records in an effort to ditch the ineffective and highly-dangerous Strategic Defence Initiative. They wrote to tell the White House that “no technology exists that’d enable the kill vehicle to keep ahead of improvements to offensive weapons… Even if the next planned test of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system works as planned, any movement toward deployment would be premature, wasteful, and dangerous”. Apparently, the American Nobel Prize winners had every reason to say what they said.

The latest economic developments show that an integral and highly important element of the arms race, which was re-started by the Bush Administration, the anti-missile defence programme, weighs down as an unbearable burden on the economy of the United States of America. Attempts to spread the arms race to outer space and plans for the opening of new missile bases explain the latest turn to the worse in international relations. This is what the fifty prize-winning scholars talked about eight years ago. However, the White House has, in defiance of facts and the elements, forced the Pentagon to hold one anti-missile test after another. Most of those tests were anything but successful, which brought celebrated physicist Andrew Sessler and other highly-qualified experts to declare that the system in question would, if it ever got fielded, prove dysfunctional.

The arrogant stubbornness of Washington, which kept pushing on with its pet project, placed a very heavy and incessantly-growing burden on the American economy. The federal government expects the final cost of its antimissile defence program to top 150 billion dollars (4.189 trillion roubles. 118.455 billion euros. 97.665 billion UK pounds). The federal government repeats what the godfathers of this programme say. Nevertheless, other knowledgeable people see that far-from-small sum as the tip of the iceberg. They expect the highly-questionable anti-missile defence program to cost from 800 billion to 1.2 trillion dollars (22.423 to 33.514 trillion roubles. 632 to 948 billion euros. 522 to 782 billion UK pounds). That cost estimate gives American policy-makers much food for thought. Alarmed voices were heard on Capitol Hill way before the eruption of the current crisis. It’s worth pointing out that the running mate of Barack Obama, Senator Joseph Biden, was one of those to doubt the advisability of additional allocations for the anti-missile defence program. Now that the American economy has come to face new problems, it’s only natural for increasingly-nervous Americans to start losing confidence in the ruling élite. After all, the Pentagon can’t dispel people’s fears with convincing figures and argumentation.

28 November 2008

zorin_vValentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service


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