Friday, April 27, 2007

Part One: The U.S. missile defense system: "blowback"

This morning, the New York Times reported Putin to Suspend Pact with NATO in his annual address to Parliament. Apparently Putin’s announcement that “Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe” was in retaliation for the U.S. proposal for a new missile defense system in Europe. And, “Although Mr. Putin did not mention it on Thursday, Russia is angry that in 2001 the Bush administration unilaterally pulled out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.”

The first word that came to mind when I read this was “blowback.” According to Chalmers Johnson in his prescient pre 9/11 book, Blowback, on page 8, the “term ‘blowback’….refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.” I’ve expanded the definition of “blowback” to include the consequences of our policies, whether secret or not, that occur when other countries respond to U.S. global militarism.

The authors of the New York Times article opined, “ Though the step by Mr. Putin was incremental, it was highly symbolic and reminiscent of brinkmanship in the cold war.”

So here we go, I thought. Who started this “brinkmanship”? I think the US did. The following articles delivered a mixed message: 1) According to the Spiegel Online International April 26 article, the Missile Shield Row Heats Up: “Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, has blasted Moscow's fears as being ‘ludicrous’"; 2)Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, who, according to the Taipei Times April 26, article, Threat to Russia? “said that the US is willing to allay Russian fears over the missile shield."

I don’t know about you, but I trust Chalmers Johnson a whole lot more than I trust Rice or Gates. In his most recent book, Nemesis, the third in his “blowback” trilogy, Johnson describes what America has done to help bring on “the last days of the American Republic.” While Johnson focuses on our global empire of military bases, he also discusses the folly of the ramping up of our missile defense system, which included President Bush’s withdrawal of the US from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty.

Part Two – The U.S. missile defense system: “Does it work?” will be posted in a day or two.

(photo - the Kremlin -

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