Um, Let’s Talk About Missile Defense in Relation to Russia’s Invasion of Georgia?

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08/15/2008 12:40 PM |

Um, so the U.S. and Poland just fast-tracked an agreement to base a component of the U.S. missile defense system on Polish soil, and Russia was all this “cannot go unpunished.”

Look. Missile defense has never been anything more than an arms race-era wet dream. It doesn’t fucking work, has been at best a qualified success in highly controlled tests, and will never be any better. Also, nobody is going to launch a nuclear missile at us. (Unless we really misplay our hand against Iran and North Korea, by a) allowing them to develop nuclear missiles and b) seriously fucking up diplomacy with them thereafter.) The fact that this administration has spent enough money to drown Scrooge McDuck on developing this unworkable and tactically idiotic system can be attributable to the hidebound Cold Warriors still in place in the Pentagon brass and in the Senate, and also the defense industry lobby.

And even I know this. And I, unlike Vladdy Putin, do not have people in Washington who go out to dinner with other people in Washington.

The Bush administration’s strategy with the Russia-Georgia crisis has been “let Bush bluster at press conferences so we don’t lose face at home, and send Condi over there to grovel.” We don’t really have very many chips to play here, obviously, and every time we do make a bluff like this it gives Putin more ammo to behave aggressively as if Russia is acting in defense of its interests. So why, why, why, when we actually play a card that isn’t merely rhetorical, do we play the fucking missile defense card, which everybody knows is useless, and yet gives Russia justification to behave even more standoffishly — they can behave as if we’ve just threatened them, but secure in the knowledge that the threat is any empty one.

This “ooh we’ve just neutralized your retaliatory capacity” move is a bluff, and a transparent one. This is why you don’t ask a bunch of Cold Warriors to engage in diplomacy or tactical maneuvers with Russia in the 21st century.

And yet somehow the very fact of Russian aggression actually “helps McCain” in the polls, because the majority of Americans, like him, still think Khrushchev is running the country. Or possibly Dolph Lundgren.

All that said, I’m not really sure if there’s anything American can really do here, it’s not like we or the E.U. have any leverage with Russia at the moment. (And I don’t really even know how much of that is a result of the blinkered foreign policy commitments of the current administration, and how much of it is economic.

Erm, tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, all “ha ha there goes the demand for the market you were trying to corner supply of, and soon we shall harness the power of The Wind!” or something. Then everybody in Congress gets to go back to their district claiming to have Done Something About the Energy Crisis, too, everybody’s happy.

Ok, I’m woefully out of my depth here. Any readers of this blog with more than a skimming familiarity with geopolitics are welcome to contribute.

4 Comment

  • I’ve been following this missile defense thing pretty closely and I can tell you majority of Poles are opposed to this system, something like 66 percent were opposed in a report I saw last month. Insane bad timing, although I told my dad as soon as this Georgia war broke out, watch they are gonna pass this thing now. I was hoping they would wait it out and Obama would kill it, or that they would pass it to make good with Americans, get the benefits of good will with the USA, then Obama kills the program and all’s well that ends well. A calculated move to get money for their little war toys, or money under the table, who knows.

    Btw- thanks for the links in the previous post.

  • I should add regarding Poland, SLD (left wing party) was saying any deal should go to referendum. However the center right and right wing parties have about 75 percent majority so if it goes to vote in their senate it should pass easily.

    I imagine there will be some street protests for sure, Im going there in next month or so, it is sort of strange coalition because somehow the neo-nazis and right wing religious nuts are also opposed to the missile system, so you might have anarchists, greens, gay and lesbian party all together on this.

  • Sounds like the antiwar movement here, part antiwar and part get-out-fur’ners.

    Poland’s relationship with the U.S. has always been interesting, I know they’ve been amenable to U.S. milatary interests (a very willing member of the coalition), and I wonder what the country/government gets out of it other than a military alliance, which seems an odd thing for an E.U. member nation to pursue so adamantly.

    As for Obama, yeah to his credit he’s singled out missile defense as a wasteful product, though it’s damn hard for a Democrat to get away with cutting defense spending and it just got harder.

  • Tis only fitting that the U.S. has Cold Warriors n charge o this thing since if noone has noticed the new 21st century Russia is helmed by 20th century kgbists.

    There is nothing US can do to aid the Georgia-Russia crisis. Need to stay out.