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Europe and Missile Defense

Peter Zeihan writes for the private intelligence agency Stratfor about "The New Logic for Ballistic Missile Defense:"
The Czech Republic and Poland are not the only European states to have changed their thinking about BMD either. A number of countries not only are responding warmly to U.S. overtures regarding facilities, but in some cases actually are initiating the siting requests. For central European states, the benefits of such deals are obvious. Most of the political elites in these states fear a future conflict with the Russians, and anything they can do to solidify a military arrangement with Washington is, to their thinking, a benefit in and of itself. But even in Western Europe, further removed from the Russian periphery, opposition to the United States' BMD programs seems to have relaxed considerably. The United Kingdom has specifically requested inclusion in the system (though Washington so far has declined), and the German government has called for the United States to address the issue of BMD in the context of NATO.
The interesting analysis is for premium subscribers only, but Stratfor grants free access, if you visit their homepage via Google. Just google for the headline and then click on the Stratfor link.

Ulrich Speck has written an excellent post in his Kosmoblog (in German) about Stratfor's analysis concerning Europe and missile defense.

Related post in the Atlantic Review: Munich Security Conference: "Clear Messages Instead of Icy Silence"


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2020 on :

The whole thing boils down to very simple logic: The first nation able to install a perfect shield against enemy missiles might think the price of war is cheap. During the cold war it was proposed every household build its own little bunker in order to survive a nuclear attack. The counter-arguments prevailed, these bunkers would increase the probabilities of a nuclear war as the risks of own damages could be considered acceptable. The best answer to nuclear threats, like from Iran or Northkorea, would be massive retaliation or flexible response, it worked well in the cold war, why not in these cases?

Don s on :

"The best answer to nuclear threats, like from Iran or Northkorea, would be massive retaliation or flexible response, it worked well in the cold war, why not in these cases? " How well do you think massive retaliation has worked with North Korea or Iran thus far? Or with India and Pakistan? remember the Us rationale for deployments in Eastern Europe - it is on the direct route between Iran and the US. The existance of BMD networks is going to put a little hesitation in the mind of any Iranian dictator, and not only about the wisdom of flinging balistic missles at the US. There will be hesitation obout supporting terrorism agaisnt the US, giving terrorists a nuke to smuggle into the US, or whatever other trick might come to mind. Why? Because the Us will be able to stand off and punish Iran for what it does with no certainty that Iran would be able to retaliate directly against the US mainland. If (for instance) Iran supplied terrorists with a nuke or other form of WMD (antraz, bioweapons, toxins of various kinds). The US could destroy much of Iran's conventional forces in retaliation whether the attack succeeds or is intercepted. Can you imagine the US President going on TV and rendering an ultimatum to Iran to arrest the malefactors and surrender them to justice of some kind? I could

2020 on :

Don, no nation has become a nuclear power through negotiations. Your question how massive retaliation worked on Northkorea etc is pure polemic, need to say no more about that, but if ever, America's ally and safe haven for terrorists Pakistan would be the best bet for that. Talking about Iran's conventional forces: Please inform yourself about their strenght and strategy. You will be surprised how weak they are - and how little is known in detail. However, Iran's strategic missiles belong to the Revolutionary Guards, the pasdaran... Iran doesn't have the capabilities for conventional warfare outside its territory, it even doesn't have a sufficient strategy for defense against a strong aggressor. As a conclusion from the war with Iraq (and also from Operation Iraqi Freedom), Iran seems to shift asymmetric/guerilla warfare into the center of his defense plans. America couldn't destroy Iran's conventional forces as easy as you probably think.

Pat Patterson on :

Conventional forces would be a national defense that is geared to defending territory even if a defense in depth. Unconventional warfare would be a guerilla or terrorist war. I'm still assuming you meant that any attack by the US would be unable to eliminate Iran's unconvential forces. If your last sentence from 6:43 is a typo then fine but if its not then it undercuts justification for changing Iran's force structure.

Pat Patterson on :

Also the Fourth Geneva is concerned with protected persons, namely civilians. Schools, orphanages, hospitals, refugee camps etc., are protected and hopefully properly marked. A power plant is not, even if in a civilian area though the attacker has to make an effort to not directly attack the civilians in that area. Plus using civilians as shields around these targets is a violation of the Geneva Convention. The targetted country is obligated to move its civilians away from possible military targets. Protected persons lose that protection if unlucky to be near a military target. For example the civilian workers in Pearl City when Pearl Harbor attacked had no protected status but the people killed on Kam Highway between Pearl and Honolulu were protected. In simplest terms no power site is protected regardless of its intended or actual use in peace or war.

Anonymous on :

"The whole thing boils down to very simple logic: The first nation able to install a perfect shield against enemy missiles might think the price of war is cheap." I'm afraid I object to this statement on the basis of simple logic - it's simply implausible that 'a perfect shield' can or will be constructed anytime in the foreseeable future. When I look at the Stratfor analysis I see a strategy predicated upon probability. A ballistic missile has three phases in flight; I see a strategy to engae the missile in all three phases of flight, but particularly on takeoff. I think the underlying assumption is to build a system which is more than the sum of it's parts. If three systems each of a 50% of destroying a missle in the three phases of uit's flight that is a system with an 87.5% chance of destroying the missile before it arrives on target. A 12.5% (at most) of success. Raise the kill probability and the probability of success falls badly - and alliance policy is no longer hostage to the threat of a North Korean missile. War would still be a grave step even with a 1% chance of success however. Would you bet San Francisco on those odds? Or Dallas? Not without a huge crisis you wouldn't!

Pat Patterson on :

Further down on the Google search page are links to NSPD-23, which was the Bush Administration's rationale for going forward even faster with the research and deployment of strategic BMD. [url][/url]

Pat Patterson on :

Maybe I should have taken typing in high school, sorry. [url][/url]

Pat Patterson on :

2020-Don't you mean that the US couldn't destroy Irans unconvential forces? Iran's shift, at least externally, to a foregin policy based on oil and the threat of sponsored groups makes sense. But internally they may plan a guerilla defensive war but are still going to have to physically hold safe territory and the nuclear facilities which seems to be the point of Iran's current domestic and foregin policy. Plus as of yet Iran has had only one successful test of its longest range missile. Which if operational and reliable can only threaten to a range of 500K. So I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see interest in BMD to arise in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey.

2020 on :

Pat, until now Iran has no unconventional forces, so how should those be destroyed? Or do you mean Iran's nuclear facilities? There would be more than 60 targets then and most of them are civil. It is forbidden to attack civil targets by the Geneva Convention and I don't know whether nuclear facilities are the exception from the rule. Anyway, an attack on Iran would be an illegal act of aggression (another, as far as the U.S. is concerned). Actually, I would expect Iran to attack raffineries in Saudi-Arabia or Kuwait to drag them into the conflict, and the US-Navy in the Gulf with rockets - but only in an act of self-defense.

Pat Patterson on :

The head of the US Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Oberling, agreed that the NATO was more than welcome to discuss participating in the BMD. There must be several collective heart attacks in the various finance ministries of Europe considering the cost of this involvement. [url][/url]

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