Monday, May 29, 2006

Pentagon wants half a billion for new Cold War era missile system

For any of you that don't want to read another "why this site sucks" or "how do you fight the trolls" diary, here is yet another installment of "why the Pentagon is off their fucking rocker".  


According to today's NY Times, in the name of "pre-emptive striking", the Pentagon is seeking half a billion dollars over the next five years to develop a new weapon that looks exactly like a current nuclear warhead (but isn't) that can be used to strike a target within an hour of being launched.


On behalf of those of us who are obviously living in a pre-9/11 mindset, I can't see how this would be effective in tracking down terrorist activity or their networks, or shutting down their funding, or protecting our brave soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, or even do what our current arsenal of overpriced and outdated "toys" can already do.  But what do I know......


The best part of this whole thing?  Because it will be designed the same as, and would be launched from the same submarines as their already-produced and known about nuclear missile counterpart, it would be extremely difficult to know if a nuclear weapon has been fired or if this non-nuclear weapon was being used.  And with the incredible amount of goodwill and trust that `Mukra and our military leaders have built up around the world, I don't think that we would be getting the benefit of the doubt anytime soon.


Thankfully, there is some level of reasonableness by some Democratic opposition to this, but the flag-waving, patriotic, true `Murkin Republicans and shills are trotting out the same old fear mongering cards.  Witness the contrast:


But the plan has run into resistance from lawmakers who are concerned that it may increase the risk of an accidental nuclear confrontation. The Trident II missile that would be used for the attacks is a system that has long been equipped with a nuclear payload. Indeed, both nonnuclear and nuclear-tipped variants of the Trident II missile would be loaded on the same submarines under the Pentagon plan.


"There is great concern this could be destabilizing in terms of deterrence and nuclear policy," said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It would be hard to determine if a missile coming out a Trident submarine is conventional or nuclear."


Reflecting the worry that Russia and other nations might misinterpret the launch of a nonnuclear Trident as the opening salvo in a nuclear barrage, lawmakers have insisted that the Bush administration present a plan to minimize that risk before the new weapon is manufactured and deployed.


Mind you, Senator Jack Reed is a graduate of West Point and served in the Army, unlike many of his oh-so-patriotic warmongering colleagues on the other side of the aisle.  I would think that he, like Murtha, Kerry, even Hagel and any other that served would know what they are talking about when they caution others about things of this nature.  


So what do we have from the other side?


In justifying the program to lawmakers, General Cartwright outlined a number of potential situations. "The argument for doing it is that there are instances, fairly rare, when time is so critical that if you can't strike in an hour or so you are going to miss that opportunity," said Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, the Maryland Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Projection Forces and who is still weighing whether to support the plan.


One possible situation, Mr. Bartlett said, would be "people putting together some terrorist weapon, and while they are putting it together we can take it out, and if we miss that opportunity it may show up on the streets of New York City or Washington, D.C."


Still another might involve the need to destroy an enemy missile equipped with a chemical, biological or nuclear warhead before an adversary can launch it at the United States or its allies. Another would be fresh intelligence about a meeting of terrorists.


As for Bartlett's distinguished military service, despite being chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Projection Forces, well, lets just say that his fellow Republicans would be proud that he didn't sell out by enlisting or serving either.  


But we know who the true patriots are and who doesn't really know anything about the military, war or diplomacy, right?


I couldn't help but notice this stark contrast - especially on Memorial Day too, while most Americans are remembering and praying for those who have lost their lives or their loved ones in past or current wars we have chickenhawk warmongers thinking of new ways to kill others and put our country and military in harm's way.


At least the article points out a few, um, stumbling blocks.  Sadly, none of these address the absolute stupidity of ANOTHER $500,000,000 for a Cold War-era weapons system that could confuse China, Russia or other countries into thinking that a nuclear weapon has been launched while that money could go to education, health care, the environment, rebuilding New Orleans, restoring some of the many many programs cut by this Congress in order to cut more corporate and high wealth individual taxes.


But, it does raise some obvious concerns.  Let's start with the fact that long range missiles haven't been used since the 1960's:

Arms control experts are divided over the wisdom of the plan. Steve Andreasen, a former defense specialist for the National Security Council, said the program would undermine American security by eliminating the taboo about the use of long-range missiles and diverting funds from other pressing defense needs.


"Long-range ballistic missiles have never been used in combat in 50 years," Mr. Andreasen said. "Once the U.S. starts signaling that it views these missiles as no different than any other weapon, other nations will adopt the same logic."


Nothing like a little more provokation and pissing off of, well, just about everyone else in the world.


Not to mention the fact that we already have a significant military presence in Iraq (or much of the Middle East for that matter) as well as by North Korea so how much more quickly do we need to act (especially with the kind of weapon this will be)?

Given the considerable American military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea, some critics say the circumstances in which a target may be beyond the reach of American warplanes or armed Predator drones are few indeed. Acquiring the sort of precise intelligence that would give the president enough confidence to order the launch of a ballistic missile within an hour might also be a daunting proposition.


Especially this president.  It's already enough that he has the power to destroy everything that he has already destroyed, not to mention how often the "intelligence" he received was either flat out wrong or a lie.  Especially when there are more instances that one can count where innocent families, civilians, women, children were killed and the response was "whoops, we screwed up.  Just more collateral damage".


Despite the shiny happy assurances that are being given (which have proven so effective and accurate in the past), Russia doesn't seem to be keen on this either.  So why provoke them further?  

The Russians, for their part, seem to have little interest in facilitating Congressional approval of a new American weapons system. During his recent trip to Russia, General Cartwright sought to explain the rationale for program to Gen. Yuri Baluyevski, the chief of the Russian General Staff.


"The things that I tried to talk to him about were the common issues that we face -- the fact that terrorists and organizations are getting capabilities that are significant and are likely to stay on a trend that could be associated with weapons of mass destruction," General Cartwright said.


After that discussion, General Baluyevski continued to stir up opposition to the plan. "As our American colleagues often tell us, these missiles could be used to kill bin Laden," he told reporters earlier this month. "This could be a costly move which not only won't guarantee his destruction but could provoke an irreversible response from a nuclear-armed state which can't determine what warhead is fitted on the missile."


Oh, how correct our Russian counterpart is.  How can this be any better than the other weapons that we have used to blow up towns, weddings and other civilian locations in an attempt to target Bin Laden or other terrorists?  And those weapons, as outdated as they may be, aren't likely to be mistaken for nuclear warheads.


This is just insane.

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