National Missile Defence -


an attempt at world domination by US imperialism

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and other east European countries, it used to be the refrain of the imperialist powers, grouped in the war-mongering aggressive NATO alliance under the leadership of US imperialism, that NATO existed solely for defensive purposes – to defend Western Europe and the ‘liberties’ of its citizens against the aggressive Warsaw Pact and the ‘totalitarian’ regimes of Eastern Europe and the USSR. It was claimed further that once the Warsaw Pact was dismantled there would be no need for NATO, that with the Warsaw Pact gone, NATO would disappear too, and that with this the swords would be turned into ploughshares and the world would get a peace dividend in the form of decreased expenditure on armaments and increased expenditure on health, education, development and poverty reduction throughout the world. This was always a lie, but four decades of imperialist-initiated cold war duped vast numbers of gullible people into putting their faith in these imperialist lying assertions. Now that the Soviet Union has disintegrated, and the Warsaw Pact is no more, far from being blessed with a peace dividend and a programme of poverty reduction, the people of the world are at the receiving end of an unprecedented growth of imperialist militarism and a frenzied struggle for world domination, in the process heaping misery upon hundreds of millions of people in the imperialist heartlands and upon the oppressed masses inhabiting the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America alike. Neither the US nor any other imperialist country is interested in peace and stability, let alone the prosperity of the labouring masses. Their only concern is world domination – the seizure of every corner of the globe for the ruthless exploitation of its people, the monopolisation of its markets, the control of its raw materials. In this furious struggle for domination – for markets and mineral resources – the various imperialist powers alternately contend and co-operate with each other. Contention is fllowed by co-operation, which in turn prepares the ground for still more furious contention and intensified competition which ultimately, unless thwarted by proletarian revolution, can only end up – as it has already done twice before in the 20

th

century – in the carnage of an imperialist war – all to decide which of the groups of imperialist bloodsuckers is to have what share of world booty.

Finance capital’s

striving for domination

Finance capital strives for domination, not for freedom – political reaction all along the line is the attribute of imperialism”

(Lenin,

Imperialism and the split in socialism

).

The events on a world scale during the decade since the collapse of the USSR and the East European People’s Democracies have frunished fresh and powerful proof of the above penetrating observation of V I Lenin’s – that great theoretician of scientific socialism and unsurpassed master of the art of revolutionary warfare for the overthrow of imperialism and the establishment and strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The continued war against Iraq, the raging inferno in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the imperialist meddling in Sierra Leone, the increasing US intervention in Colombia, the extension of NATO, the dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia followed by the most barbaric war of aggression against the latter by the war-mongering neo-Nazi NATO alliance in the spring of last year, the rejection by the US Senate in October 1999 of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Congressional Bill of March 1999, giving the go-ahead for the building of a National Missile Defnce (NMD) system to protect the US against a missile attack – all these events are eloquent testimony to the correctness of the Leninist analysis. In this article, we concentrate on the US Senate’s rejection of the CTBT and the decision by the US to proceed with the building of the NMD.

In a brutal statement of arrogant unilateralism, on Wednesday 13 October 1999, the US Senate voted to reject the CTBT on the pretext that the Treaty was unverifiable with regard to other countries; that it put undue restraints on the ability of the US to check the safety and reliability of its atomic arsenal; and that it weakened US national security by condemning to obsolescence its nuclear capability.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prevents non-nuclear states from acquiring atomic weapons, was extended in 1995 – in theory in perpetuity. In practice, non-nuclear states made this extension conditional on nuclear states taking the lead in establishing a global test ban. As a result of coercion and blackmail by US imperialism, 187 countries signed the NPT. The US administration had engaged in the arm twisting of countries such as India to put their signatures to the CTBT. By rejecting the CTBT for the sole purpose of freezing the United States’ nuclear superiority over other countries, US imperialism, while revealing the hollowness of its feigned concern about nuclear non-proliferation and a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, has served to demonstrate the correctness and justness of the stance of countries such as India which resisted US blandishments to accede to the CTBT on the grounds that it was neither comprehensive (for it did not ban sub-critical testing) nor did it oblige the nuclea powers to commit themselves to comprehensive, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

NMD -

an attempt at nuclear invulnerability

The rejection of the CTBT came hard on the heels of the Congressional Bill, endorsed by the two houses of the US Congress on 17 and 18 March 1999, signed into law by President Clinton in July 1999, which obliges the US Administration to build an NMD system. The pretext for this legislation was the alleged threat to the US of missile attack from the so-called ‘rogue states’, that is, any country – be it North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya or Yugoslavia – which refuses to submit to the dictates of imperialism – US imperialism in particular – and pursues an independent policy. In fact the NMD is a continuation of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) launched in 1983 by the Reagan Administration. Dubbed ‘Star Wars’, it involved the notion of a colossally expensive forest of space-based mirrors and lasers to shoot down incoming Soviet missiles, with the sole purpose of achieving unilateral invulnerability to a Soviet nuclear attack. Since the Soviet Union had never any intention of attacking the US, the SDI boiled down to an attempt by US imperialism to attack the erstwhile USSR with impunity.

Now revived and rechristened the NMD (‘Son of Star Wars’, as it has rightly come to be called), the awesome scope of the project may be gauged from the fact that it is proposed to proceed “

in four stages from an initial 20 missile interceptors in 2005 to a fleet, by 2011, of 250 ‘exoatmospheric kill vehicles’ in underground silos across Alaska and North Dakota, to be unleashed and guided by a global network of three command centres and five communications relay stations using 29 satellites and 15 space-based radar stations

” (Ed Vulliamy, ‘US missile fiasco – Star Wars falls to earth’,

Observer,

9 July 2000).

The purpose of NMD, though launched on the pretext of making the US safe from a missile attack by one of the ‘rogue states’, whose list is constantly changing as per the whims of US imperialism, is plainly to make America invulnerable to a Russian and Chinese attack. In other words, its aim is to make the Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrents redundant and thus enable US imperialism to attack these two countries without risking an annihilatory retaliatory strike from them.

The SDI has cost the US taxpayer $60 billion and, if the resistance in the US and elsewhere does not prevent the American military-industrial complex from going ahead with it, NMD will cost another $60 billion in the coming decade. Leaving aside for a moment other objections, this is a massive transfer of wealth from the American people (whose taxes must pay for the project) to the mega-merchants of death such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW and Raytheon. Considering that a quarter of all US children go to bed on a hungry stomach, that 30-40 million of its people live in poverty or on the margins of it, that 43 million people there have no healthcare provision, and two million people are rotting in prison – the overwhelming majority of them black victims of racism and poverty – the obscene criminality of this huge transfer of wealth to the blood suckers of the armament manufacturing industry is a reflection, and a condemnation, of the system of capitalist imperialism.

Technical difficulties

There is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip – so runs the old saying. There is the inherent difficulty of ‘hitting a bullet with a bullet’, which is what an effective missile defence system has to accomplish. Out of the three tests conducted so far, while the fist (in October 1999) scored an ambiguous hit, the second (in January this year) and the third (on 8 July) have been singular failures. The ‘success’ in the first test was achieved through fraudulent means, according to Professor Theodore Postol, an MIT missile expert. The third test proved to be a total fiasco following a wave of hype as the interceptor missile meant to destroy a dummy warhead over the Pacific Ocean failed to separate from its booster rocket and landed harmlessly in the sea. Thus far the NMD remains completely unproven. The prestigious US Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that NMD will not work because warheads can be divided into small bomblets that would be released from the missile early in its flight so as to be able to overwhelm the defence system with an over-abundant supply of targets.

Blatant tearing up of international treaties

In addition to the technical difficulties, NMD would be a clear violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which bans defences against ballistic missiles and by which the US solemnly agreed to abide.

The entire project, far from providing US imperialism with nuclear invulnerability, may in fact end up making it weaker through stiff opposition to it from Russia, China, Europe and many other countries, each of which opposes it for their own different reasons, and each of which will counter it by implementing sophisticated programmes negativing any US advances in this field. If the US persists with the NMD project, it will be obliged to abrogate the 1972 ABM Treaty, an abrogation which would make Russia feel threatened, and into the bargain remove any remaining, flimsy, restraints on nuclear proliferation. Russia is not fooled by the American assertion that it is building the NMD to protect itself from a missile attack by ‘rogue states’.

“Unsurprisingly,”

writes Philip Stephens in the

Financial Times

of 14 April, 2000,

“Russia refuses to accept that the US intends to spend tens of billions of dollars building defences against the one-in-a-million chance of a lone missile fired by, say, North Korea. Americans are not that stupid, one European foreign minister visiting Moscow was recently told by his Russian hosts.”

Continues Mr Stephens:

“So if the US builds missile defences, Russia will respond with more sophisticated counter-measures. So too will China. In Beijing’s eyes, NMD has sinister implications. It might embolden a US-defended Taiwan to declare independence. Safe behind its shield the US could threaten a first strike in the confidence that it could neutralise any retaliation.”

Any successful attempt at building even a limited missile defence by the US would have grave consequences for the Chinese nuclear deterrent, for China is reliably known to possess no more than at the most 30 ICBMs capable of hitting the US. Influential American figures now openly admit that the NMD is clearly aimed at China. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday 27 July in Washington, Mr Peter Brookes, the principal advisor to a Congressional Committee on East Asian affairs, said that the real question at issue was the US’s nuclear superiority in Asia, and China’s future challenge to American domination:

“Washington should stop denying that there is a link between China’s nuclear modernisation, conventional military build-up and proliferation practices, and the requirement for ballistic missile defence.

Washington must acknowledge the possibility of conflict with China, especially over the issue of Taiwan, or even North Korea, and plan accordingly to preserve and protect US national security interests and those of our friends and allies,”

Mr Brookes said.

China and Russia have taken due note of US intentions and actions. For its part, China is reported to be effecting a shift in its defence policy away from massive modernisation of her three armed services to development of strategic weapons – such as ballistic missiles, anti-missile systems and nuclear weapons – all this in response to the NMD, to protect the US and the Theatre Missile Defence System (TMD), designed to shelter the troops of the US and its allies (Japan, Taiwan and South Korea) in Asia.

What is more, in view of the common danger faced by them, Russia and China have been spurred into forging close diplomatic, political, commercial and defence ties and co-operation. During his visit to the People’s Republic of China, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, reiterated his opposition to the NMD. He signed a document condemning NMD plans. It is the first time that an event of such importance has taken place since the official resumption of relations between the heads of these two countries nearly 10 years ago. In barely-disguised terms, Russia has threatened to tear up all arms control accords if Washington persists with the NMD. China has stated that “

US-led powers were destabilising global security through imperative globalisation, which was affecting nation states’ economic sovereignty and causing a nuclear arms race. Wang Zaibang, assistant president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the resolution by the United States to develop and deploy a ballistic

missile defence system, including national missile defence and theatre missile defence, was threatening arms control and disarmament.

“Once all the systems are functioning, Russia – in order to keep its capability to break through the defence net – will probably withdraw from all agreements of nuclear disarmament and redeploy missiles with multiple warheads which would otherwise be eliminated under the Start II treaty. “Other nuclear powers will then be forced to develop their own defence systems as well as strengthening their offensive weapons”, Mr Wang said (quoted from

Bangkok Post,

‘Asean Regional Forum: Move urged to prevent nuclear escalation’, 21 July 2000).

In a successful effort to counter US assertions that the NMD was merely aimed at countries such as North Korea (not Russia or China), Putin followed his visit to Beijing with a surprise visit to Pyongyang en route to Okinawa for the G8 Summit. During his talks with the Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, Putin secured a pledge from the latter that North Korea would be prepared to abandon its own missile programme and to use exclusively missile technology of other states if someone were to give it booster rockets for carrying out peaceful space research. This pledge took the wind out of US sails and made its assertions about a North Korean missile threat to US security look positively silly and absurd. The US position has been further undermined by the recent historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. US imperialism is positively depressed at these developments, for it needs a divided Korea, not a reunified Korea. It does not need a peaceful Korean Peninsula but an unstable Korea, for only in an unstable Korea is it able to fish in troubled waters and justify the presence of its 40,000-strong army of occupation in South Korea, with its most sophisticated armoury, including 1,000 nuclear warheads. Only an unstable and troubled South East Asia can provide some excuse for the continued presence of 60,000 US troops in Japan.

European opposition to NMD

For a variety of reasons, various European imperialist countries, with the possible exception of Britain, oppose the NMD. If the system is to work, European co-operation is essential, for Europe’s radar systems are crucial to the success of NMD. In fact, Britain and Denmark have an effective veto over the whole enterprise and could scuttle it by refusing to go along with it. While the British prime minister, Tony Blair, has informally intimated that Britain will allow the required upgrading of the US’s Fylingdale radar facility in Yorkshire (and, considering that Britain will shortly have to start thinking about a replacement for the Trident, which makes it entirely beholden to the US, he could not easily do otherwise), the other European governments are openly opposing this project. In particular the German Chancellor, Gerhardt Shroder, has insisted that even taking the ‘rogue states’ into consideration, there is not threat to western security sufficient to warrant what is in effect a continuation of th cold war programme. And he communicated his views to Bill Clinton during the latter’s recent farewell European tour.

At the bottom of the opposition to NMD on the part of the European imperialist states is a mixture of fear and inter-imperialist rivalry. They are afraid that in the event of the US proceeding with the NMD, a step in clear and total violation of the 1972 ABM Treaty, Russia, freed of all arms control regime, would build up an anti-missile system of its own and thus be in a position to threaten western Europe. Even in the unlikely event of Russia being unable to match an American anti-missile system, being the second largest nuclear power, Russia would still pose a threat of devastating proportions, against which French and British nuclear deterrents would stand no chance. Besides, nuclear and missile technology has spread enormously over the past three decades. Today thirty countries are in a position to operate ballistic missiles. A new nuclear arms race, which is precisely what would follow an American decision to install the NMD in the US and a TMD in Asia, would merely serve to help the spread of this technology faster than has been the case hitherto. Some of the countries on the US list of ‘rogue states’ are on the doorstep of Europe – hardly a pleasing prospect for European imperialist powers.

Then there is the rivalry, of which there has been plenty of evidence recently, especially during the war against Yugoslavia, between US and European imperialism. An America invulnerable to a nuclear attack would be even more overbearing and insufferable, and in an even stronger position to dictate terms to its rival European imperialists, a prospect which the latter can hardly be expected to relish.

There is not even the likelihood of European monopolist corporations securing some juicy bits in the form of subcontracted work for the NMD, for the United States will not look to Europe for technology support. “

Much too much industrial muscle is wheedled by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. These giant companies have already invested millions of dollars in research for NMD and they are not about to let their competitors share in what they think will be considerable profits from its construction”

(Paul Beaver, ‘A $60bn gamble with world peace’,

The Scotsman,

7 July7 2000).

Instead, sections of European industry are working on their own ballistic missile defence programme. Eurosan, a Franco-German-Italian consortium, has invented a system which could use a radar developed in Britain, for deployment in 2012:

“Using the Aster missile which will equip the Royal Navy’s new Type-45 frigates from about 2005 and various radar configurations, the Europeans have come up with a viable alternative to space-based lasers, multi-tiered naval systems and expensive high altitude interceptors” (

ibid.

).

All in all, damaging disputes are threatening a great rift between US and European imperialism over, inter alia, the question of the US plans to build the NMD system against nuclear attack and over Europe’s aspirations for its own defence capacity. Not content with the strategic doctrines of pre-emption and deterrence, and with its sophisticated weaponry which is ahead of any other nation’s, US imperialism is determined to add that of futility. By doing so, it is not only arousing the opposition of Russia and China but also that of its European ‘allies’. Unable, so far at least, openly to condemn the US, even the normally compliant British politicians and the docile British press are fervently hoping and praying that the NMD will be a technical flop. There lies

“the earnest hope that the technology will fail. Extraordinary, when you think about it. Here is a project that the US sees as central to its security and yet its NATO allies are willing it to fail – That’s what happens when friends talk past each other”

(Philip Stephens,

op.cit.

).

If Mr Stephens were to give serious thought to it, if he were to bring into the equation not merely what has united these ‘friends’ in NATO for the past half century but also their rival imperialist interests which, since the disappearance of the USSR, are increasingly coming to the fore and are threatening to blow this alliance apart, he would find nothing extraordinary in this situation. In the question of relations between the imperialist powers, he would have done well to remember these words of Lord Palmerstone: a great power has no permanent friends, only permanent interests. He would have done even better had he pondered over the following observations of V I Lenin’s:

Inter-imperialist alliances, no matter what form they assume, whether of one imperialist coalition against another, or of a general alliance embracing all the imperialist powers, are periods between wars. Peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn, grow out of wars; the one conditions the other”

(

Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism

).

Carrying out war preparations under the deceptive slogans of peace

The imperialist powers, in particular US imperialism, are past masters in the game of uttering hypocritical phrases about peace and stability, while all the time making frenzied war preparations and disturbing the peace of the world. They are in their element giving expression to honeyed phrases about freedom, democracy and human rights, while violating these in practice at every step. While wanting to disarm everyone else, they are forever arming themselves to the teeth. Until a decade ago, US imperialism successfully used the fear of communism as a way of soliciting public approval for gigantic military spending programmes – ostensibly to ‘catch up’ with, or to stay ahead of, the erstwhile USSR. Since the disappearance of the USSR, which never had any aggressive designs on the US anyway, the latter has invented a new enemy, namely, the so-called ‘rogue states’. The truth is that the only rogue states are those whose headquarters are in Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Tokyo – that is to say the tiny handful of imperialist countries which exploit and terrorise hundreds of millions of people across the five continents. Their combined annual military spending amounts to $460 billion!

The military expenditure of US imperialism alone amounts to nearly $300 billion. Between 1940 and 1996, the US spent no less than $20 trillion (at constant 1996 prices) on nuclear and non-nuclear weapons systems – 30% of this vast sum on nuclear weapons alone – all this at a time when 30-40 million US citizens were suffering dire poverty. In 1999, US President, Bill Clinton, promised an extra $320 billion for the military over the next five years on top of the regular $300 billion a year US defence budget, which is as large as that of the next 10 top-spending countries combined. The US has 2.4 million troops, armed with the most sophisticated weaponry. US troops are deployed in 100 of the world’s 197 countries. It maintains active and reserve soldiers and civilians on 1,200 missions around the world. It keeps 100,000 troops in Europe, 60,000 in Japan, 40,000 in South Korea and nearly 30,000 in the Middle East. It accounts for nearly 50% of the world trade in the merchandise of death – i.e., armaments. It has bombed 22 countries (including Korea, Vietnam and Yugoslavia) since the end of the Second World War. The number of those killed in its wars of aggression since 1945 runs to 6 million – the equivalent of the Nazi holocaust – not taking into account the 12 million who die each year as a result of the imperialist-imposed malnutrition and starvation. Since the Second World War, US imperialism has acted as chief counter-revolutionary gendarme and hangman of revolution everywhere. The US has over 7,000 strategic weapons and 580 ICBMs. And this is the country whose political and military spokesmen have the audacity to talk about the threat presented by the ‘rogue states’, and seek to lecture the world on the question of freedom, democracy, human rights, and weapons of mass destruction.

Ambitions for world dominationn

The outcry about ‘rogue states’ and human rights is merely a pretext for imperialist aggression and brigandage – a cover for attempts at world domination. At unguarded moments, and by way of rare exception, US imperialism’s political representatives and ideologues candidly admit of their ambitions for world domination. Former Representative Lee Hamilton, writing in the

New York Times

of 1 February 1999, said:

“America and the Americans are everywhere in the states of the former Yugoslavia. American officials are in the leadership positions all over the region. We are practically the proconsul of the former Yugoslavia.”

Zbigniew Brzenzinski, former US national security advisor, in his book

The Grand Chessboard,

sees NATO as the instrument of an

“integrated, comprehensive and longterm geostrategy for all of Eurasia”

, in which this warmongering arm of imperialist aggression would in the end reach Asia. The recent war in Kosovo set a precedent for a new NATO, with an extended mission beyond its traditional area of operation, taking within its sweep Iraq, Iran, South and South East Asia, and committing aggression using code words such as ‘rogue states’, ‘weapons of mass destruction’, ‘human rights violations’, which reveal the scope of the global force and the range of interventions being planned by the US through NATO. The extension of NATO right up to the borders of Russia, the plan to admit the countries of central Asia which formed part of the old Soviet Union, such as Azerbaijan, with their huge oil resources and their strategic position in the oil-rich Caspian-Black Sea belt, the strengthening last year of the military alliance between the US and Japan through the adoption of the new US-Japan security guidelines which commit Japan to providing support to US campaigns outside its own borders, for example in Korea, Taiwan, etc. – all these developments do not augur well for world peace and stability. On the contrary, they are merely the shadows of the wars being prepared by imperialism.

The war in Yugoslavia was a landmark. It was fought by imperialism not merely for the control of that country, but also for the control of those regions to which it gives access. The Balkans are on the main route connecting the oil rich Black-Caspian Sea belt, the Middle East and Europe. The principal channel for the transport of the oil of this region is across the Black Sea via the Danube (through Yugoslavia) into Germany and other countries of the European continent. It is these vast oil riches which are driving NATO’s expansion eastward. It is the dazzle of this fabulous wealth which drove NATO countries to wage a bargbaric war against tiny Yugoslavia. It is precisely the same motives which are driving imperialism to expand NATO’s mission to include Asia. It is precisely the same considerations which are driving US imperialism to build the NMD system – so that it may achieve world domination with impunity through aggression and nuclear blackmail.

Only liberals and simpletons can be surprised by these developments, which are the necessary outcome of the highest stage of capitalism, namely imperialism (monopoly capitalism or finance capitalism). Militarism, war and aggression are an inseparable part of it, for finance capital everywhere, at home and abroad,

“strives for domination, not for freedom”,

for political reaction all along the line is the attribute of imperialism. No amount of averting the gaze in the other direction, no amount of hand wringing and pious hopes will stop this system from being what it is. There is only one way to deal with it: the proletariat and the oppressed people of the world must gain a clear understanding of this system, expose it, fight it and overthrow it. Unless this system is smashed, there will be no peace and no prosperity for the majority of humanity for whom life under this filthy system is one of unremitting torture and misery.

“Private property is robbery”, said Lenin,

“and a state based on private property is a state of beasts of prey, who go to war for the division of spoils”

(Speech in Moscow, 15 October 1920).

Communism alone holds the prospect for genuine peace and prosperity. It alone represents the future of humanity.