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Sunday, March 23, 2003


This is part two of the commentary about the revolution in warfare, with part one found in the previous entry here. You should read that part before proceeding here. It will give you a background feel, even if theoretical, about the ways the war in Iraq is unfolding, dictated largely by American planning: the overall strategy for the war, the battlefield tactics, with of course inevitable adjustments made as the war unfolds. One big change, remember, occurred even before the war started last week: the need to re-route the 4th infantry division and the 1st cavalry division, which were scheduled to deploy from 40 ships in the Mediterranean and open up a Northern front at the war's start, once the new Turkish parliament --- dominated by moderate fundamentalists, but whose ranks are filled with new conservative parliamentarians from the smaller cities and countryside of Turkey with little or no experience in foreign policy --- refused to allow the deployment. The 40 ship armada is heading for the Gulf region, and the divisions --- the most technologically advanced in the combined use of armored vehicles, tanks, gunships, and motorized artillery --- will be able to supplement the war effort once they're on land and the ships are unloaded. The unloading, keep in mind, will take days. Meanwhile, a northern front has been opened up with different, lighter forces, especially the 101st airborne.

One other thing. A couple of emails I've received wonder why the buggy prof is talking about missile defenses when, so they said, the topic isn't relevant to the war in Iraq that is now raging there. Really? The Patriot missiles defenses that have knocked down several Iraqi scuds over Kuwait the last six days --- in particular, PAC-2 's and PAC-3's --- are part of any effective missile defense system, are deployed already in other areas of the Middle East (specifically, Israel), and are also ready for use in the northern region of Pacific Asia, where North Korea has been practicing brinksmanship tactics for the last several months.

Nuclear Missile Defenses, to circle back to them, are the fllp side of the revolution in military affairs. Frequently overlooked those knowledgeable about these revolutionary military changes, they're no less a radical change in American strategy and tactics than the fast-paced changes in offensive capabilities that the previous entry, Part One, talked about.
In particular, along with an explicit endorsement of a pre-emptive strategy --- which was part of the Bush Sr and Clinton administrations, only without public declarations about it --- the powerful commitment to a missile defense system breaks cleanly with the cold war strategic consensus on MAD at the core for dealing with nuclear threats. MAD --- Mutual Assured Destruction (a term explained before) --- was the core basis of American nuclear strategy for containing and deterring the Soviet Union from open warfare, especially against West Europe; and it was reinforced by some nuclear war-fighting options for attacking Soviet military and political command posts and weapons depots and missile sites and bridges and railway junctions with, it was hoped, small but accurate nuclear offensive missiles. Naturally, the new Bush commitment to nuclear missile defenses has been denounced loudly from different sides: from military conservatives on the right, and by the liberal and radical left --- most of the latter, it needs to be stressed, especially given their strenuous denunciations of almost anything the US does in its security policies, noticeably uninformed about military strategy, or the conditions of nuclear stability, or how arms control can help, never mind anything in depth about military history or military technologies.

The Critics and Why They Were and Are Wrong: Not That They Ever Learn Anything from Their Botched Predictions

Missile defenses, we were told --- including, it's worth noting, by some intelligent military specialists themselves --- wouldn't work, couldn't work, and shouldn't work. How silly of Ronald Reagan and his Star Wars fantasies in the 1980s, never mind the Bushies today, to think they would. Worse, renouncing the ABM treaty would set off a new nuclear arms race with the Russians, while alienating Beijing permanently and forcing it to multiply its offensive nuclear arms. None of which came to pass, needless to say. And needless to add, none of which blunders has dented the cocksure ignorance of the radical left and liberal pacifists and utopians who, it appears, never seem to learn anything that might dent their sense of moral superiority and actually bring them face-to-face with some hard brute evidence that makes nonsense of their pieties and dogmatic dreams.

What follows, note, is an analysis of some recent work on missile defenses that the buggy prof sent to his listserver subscribers in December 2002.

It also includes an article from the media at the end. Keep in mind something that is useful whenever you encounter one of the loudmouthed politically correct types on campus or in the media or --- alas, as is rife throughout the EU where the radical generation of the late 1960s and 1970s has been joined by the post-modernists of the 1980s and 1990s --- in universities, schools, TV, radio, print journalism, or left-wing parties (and sometimes centrist and conservative ones too), the dogmas there hardly even challenged openly save in London by some of the newspapers and weeklies there. That thing to recall? The first successful air flight was in 1903, carried out by the Wright brothers. The home-made plane hardly got more than a few feet into the air and travelled only a few hundred feet before it landed. Imagine the technological Neandrathals of the day and their smirky denigration of the news. A few feet in the air! A distance that a horse could cover in almost the same time! What a waste of resources! Let's build better railroads or horse-carriages!

Sixty-six years later, the first spaceship landed a man on the moon, and in the next decade we landed an unmanned spaceship on Mars, while sending others to the far points of our solar system and now soon into interstellar space. And recall too that the critics jumped all over the subsequent analyses after the first Gulf War that showed the Patriot-I missiles all failed to hit the Iraqi incoming Scuds, claiming missile defenses were all shams. The news from Kuwait shows that the Pat-2 and Pat-3 are remarkably accurate, as is in its operational testing the high-altitude Arrow defense missile system that the Israelis, developing it with us, have deployed for their protection against any attacks from Iraq. Its anti-missile warheads can climb to 36,000 feet in 5 seconds and hit incoming warheads with unusual accuracy. For that matter, the Israelis and the US have made big progress in the use of laser anti-missile systems, and an air-based laser system operating from a US plane will be deployed in 2004.

One other point, and then the analysis of missile defenses that will follow. NATO, all its EU members included, have signed on with the Russians to develop theater missile defenses with us. So much for the huge resistance of our almost always risk-averse Continental allies, fearful of any departure that the US has initiated in NATO for 30 years now. Half way around the world, the Japanese --- who have been cooperating with us on theater missile defenses --- are openly happy that we have reassured them in the face of growing North Korean brinksmanship that our deployed missile defenses in the region, not least on Aegis-class destroyers and cruisers, will give them the protection they now crave. The alternative for Japan is to go nuclear itself, something that could be highly destabilizing in the whole Pacific region.




1. That the existing missile defense system to be deployed by 2004 to defend the US and its allies isn't technologically perfected was shown by the failed test a couple of weeks ago (the anti-missile warhead couldn't separate from its boosters), and no doubt the critics of Missile Defenses will seize on this failure to strengthen their opposition. They will, of course, overlook a string of successful tests in both ground-based and sea-based systems, the PAC-3 advanced Patriot anti-missile system, the Arrow system (now deployed in two operational batteries in Israel, which jointly is developing this and other anti-missile systems), and improvements in the sensors to be located on land, sea, and space. Tests will have to be constantly performed on all these components, just as they were on the offensive missiles that are so destructive and menacing, not to mention immoral if used in large numbers no matter how accurately they are aimed away from population centers; and as the tests go on, improvements will be made.

No one system will ever be foolproof, hence the reason for a three-layered system: anti-missiles planted on Aegis-class destroyers (eventually subs will be able to carry these) operating offshore of rogue states, to attack offensive missiles in the relatively slow launch-booster phase as the missiles and their booster rockets and warheads struggle to overcome gravity; then attack in mid-course from both sea and land-based missiles --- eventually to be supplemented by the airborne laser not long after 2004 (see our commentary and article yesterday on this); and finally in the last stage as the warheads fall toward their targets out of the high atmosphere. Ultimately, say in 10-15 years, there will be supplemental systems particle-beam high energy anti-missiles, scattergun high-energy pebbles, satellite based systems of various kinds (including lasers, particle-beams, and high-energy explosives that scatter millions of fast-moving pebbles over a wide swathe of atmosphere to attack offensive missiles and their warheads). Work on the sensors and computers (as well as software) have to be improved at all levels too.

2. If we're lucky and smart and pursue effective policies aimed at forcing disarmament of rogue states--- Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea---one way or another, including pre-emption as an ultimate resort (hopefully with the cooperation of allies and friendly countries), then no state that is hostile to us will have large offensive nuclear forces deployed at all. The anti-missile systems will be supplemental insurance.

No one can guarantee, of course, that Russia or China might not eventually fall into a hostile threatening stance towards us or our chief allies, with possibly China moving forward to deploy large nuclear offensive systems, but the two-sided danger here seems unlikely to materialize. There is way to much cooperation between Washington and Moscow right now (including, it seems, on missile defenses); and the further development of Russian democracy and its growing integration into the capitalist rule-based institutional system and into NATO would reinforce such cooperation and the ordinary tendencies, shared by stable democratic states, to settle our disputes peacefully. China's future here is problematic on all these scores. Even so, our relations with Beijing are better than at any time in the past --- so much for the criticisms of Bush's misconceived policies in diplomacy and security --- and the country's growing integration into the WTO system should solidify further its leaders' predominant interest in economic and technological development and further trade and investment with the West and Japan . . . this, no matter what happens to the CP itself (short of a threatened break-up of China, and the take-over by an aggressive military leadership).

Our common war against Islamo-fascist terrorism, active all around the globe, but not least in Asia, the Middle East, and North America adds to the shared interests among the three states.

Nor is that all. Russia and China, unlike the Rogue states, are led by stable coaltions with widespread institutionalization and checks on aggressive militaristic adventures that could escalate quickly to nuclear war. In such circumstances, deterrence --- reinforced by diplomatic, military, and economic engagement --- makes sense even in the presence of major geo-political rivalries. Regarding the despotic totalitarian systems of Iraq, Syria, North Korea, and Iran --- the latter especially, led by a megalomaniac of proven high-risk adventurism --- the reliance on deterrence is far more uncertain in its effects, and for what should be obvious reasons to anybody reading our commentaries the last few months.

3. The outcome? If we're smart and determined --- and a little lucky too --- both success in the war against terrorism and further R&D and deployments, cooperatively carried out with others, will bring the world out of the nightmare that we found ourselves in after 1945: large numbers of deployed offensive missiles, the command-and-control over which wasn't fully certain, and with the even greater menace of proliferating nuclear forces to unstable and reckless states.

At that point, we might have effective global arms control and confidence building --- backed by various forms of monitoring (including on-site inspections, with resistance to them, as in the Iraqi case now, leading to coercive sanctions of a swift and credible sort) --- to further stabilize the nuclear systems now deployed in the world

4. Will such multilateral cooperation be forthcoming? Yes, it already is.

In particular, contrary to what the critics of the Bush initiatives have said, including the alleged disaster that abrogating the outdated ABM treaty would entail, all our NATO allies --- in West and East Europe, the French included --- now want to cooperate with us in deploying anti-missile systems to protect their populations; and in Asia, that's true of Japan, Australia, and India. Russia is actively interested as well (there is some limited joint-work between Moscow and Washington on missile defenses, with more evidently promised). And China? I haven't seen much about its interest as yet in joint development. I have noticed, along with others however, that Beijing no longer is vocal in its opposition to missile defenses; and it is much more actively cooperating now in arms control and confidence-building.

5. The dangers very real, very worrisome --- that terrorists might get hold of small nuclear weapons pose different sorts of menaces, and they have to be tackled differently, with vigor in the war against terrorism. Right now, the two-sides of that war against terrorism --- Islamo-fascist fanatics, Islamic terrorist-supporting states actively engaged in WMD --- come together in the Iraqi case. If we're intelligent, we'll be able to prove major breaches of the recent UN Security Council resolution, get Securtiy Council endorsement (it's not required in the resolution itself), and quickly destroy the fascist totalitarian regime there.

That will very likely send repercussions eastward into clerical-fascist Iran and westward into the brutal but non-fanatical gangster Baath-Party regime in Damascus Syria to change its ways. And it will have demonstrated conclusively to the Saudis the their days of double-dealing and treachery are over.

And not just to the Saudis either. Rather, other Arab regimes (many of them capable of reform, and certainly turning off the hate-machines generated by radical Islamist fanatics and the access they enjoy to the state-controlled media, as well as any support for terrorism). In such circumstances --- and only then --- might an Israeli-PA negotiated peace be a real prospect again . . . provided that the PA itself is reformed, as the Bush administration demands, from top to bottom.


Star Wars Arrives From The Wall Street Journal

Missile defense came out of the lab and into the field yesterday, with President Bush's announcement that the U.S. will deploy a limited system to defend the U.S. and its allies against missile attack by 2004. Somewhere the Gipper is smiling.

There's nothing easy or simple about the task ahead, and Mr. Bush stressed that the first stage will be "modest." Yet even the initial capabilities he outlined can only be deemed spectacular when compared with where the U.S. stood barely a year ago, much less where it stood when Ronald Reagan laid out his defense vision in his famous 1983 "Star Wars" speech.

Consider: On December 13, 2001, Mr. Bush made known his intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, which had severely limited the development of effective anti-missile defenses. This January 2 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the establishment of the Missile Defense Agency, tasked with designing and deploying a missile defense shield for the U.S. and its allies. On June 13, the ABM Treaty ended. Yesterday Mr. Bush announced a plan for deployment; who says Presidential elections don't matter?

This is a remarkable trajectory, and shows how much the nation's strategists and scientists can accomplish when they put their minds to it (and when they are unencumbered by lawyers and diplomats enforcing an antique treaty). It doesn't hurt that there's scarcely an American unaware that North Korea already has missiles capable of attacking Alaska and is rapidly upgrading. Iranian and Iraqi missiles can reach into the heart of Europe.

"The aim here," Assistant Secretary of Defense J.D. Crouch told us in an interview, "is to get some capability out there quickly." That's because there's an immediate threat but also because it will help push us up the learning curve. "This is not a final architecture," Mr. Crouch stresses. The idea is to follow the models provided by the JSTAR military surveillance plane and the Predator stealth plane. Both were still in the experimental phase when they were called into service in the Gulf War and Afghanistan, respectively.

The past year has seen a string of technological successes in numerous missile-defense programs, including several that will be part of the initial system: ground-based and sea-based defenses, the advanced Patriot (PAC-3) anti-missile system, and sensors located on land, at sea and in space. The airborne laser -- likely ready soon after 2004 -- is extremely promising for shooting down enemy missiles in the boost phase, that is, not long after their launch.

Perhaps the most remarkable achievement, however, has been in anti-missile diplomacy. In one year, we've moved from a world in which most U.S. allies were grumbling about a "dangerous arms race" to one in which they are eager to be part of a U.S.-led missile defense system.

The best example is NATO, which last month in Prague announced that it would "examine options" for building a missile shield to protect population centers. Even France has suddenly discovered a passion for defenses and now wants to get in on the mobile anti-missile program known as Meads being developed by the U.S., Italy and Germany.

Britain and Denmark are likely to acquiesce to U.S. requests for upgrading early-warning radars in Yorkshire and Greenland that are essential to tracking missiles originating in the Mideast. Russia is cooperating in a number of missile-defense programs and several Eastern European countries have held up their hands to participate.

Japan may have the world's most pressing interest, given its natural concern that Pyongyang could test another ballistic missile like the one that landed too close for comfort in the Sea of Japan in 1998. The head of Japan's Defense Agency, on a visit to Washington this week, let it be known that Japan wants to move its joint program with the U.S. out of the study phase to development and deployment. Japan already has purchased several U.S.-made Aegis ships, which could provide a sea-based platform for defense of that island nation.

In short, Mr. Bush's announcement yesterday marks the beginning of the future of missile defense. It also marks the final nail in the coffin of the Cold War "MAD" doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Just as Mr. Reagan predicted, again ahead of his time, America's leaders will finally be able to do more than watch in horror if a missile is launched against the U.S. homeland.