by F. William Engdahl
December 2, 2011
F. William Engdahl may be
contacted through his website at
His newest book on oil
geopolitics, titled Myths, Lies and Oil Wars is due out by spring of
Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching
ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war.
No, it's not at all about Iran and Israel. It's
about the decision of Washington and the Pentagon to push Moscow up against
the wall with what is euphemistically called Ballistic Missile Defense
On November 23, a normally low-keyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
told the world in clear terms that Russia was prepared to deploy its
missiles on the border to the EU between Poland and Lithuania, and possibly
in the south near Georgia and NATO member Turkey to counter the advanced
construction process of the U.S. ballistic missile defense shield:
"The Russian Federation will deploy in the
west and the south of the country modern weapons systems that could be
used to destroy the European component of the U.S. missile defense," he
announced on Russian television.
"One of these steps could be the deployment
of the Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad."1
Those would be theatre ballistic missile
The latest version of Iskander, the Iskander-K, whose details
remain top secret, reportedly has a range up to 2000 km and carries cruise
missiles and a target accuracy to 7 meters or less.
Medvedev declared he has ordered the Russian defense ministry to
"immediately" put radar systems in Kaliningrad that warn of incoming missile
attacks on a state of combat readiness.
He called for extending the
targeting range of Russia's strategic nuclear missile forces and
re-equipping Russia's nuclear arsenal with new warheads capable of piercing
the U.S./NATO defense shield due to become operational in six years, by 2018. Medvedev also threatened to pull Russia out of the New START missile
reduction treaty if the United States moves as announced.
Medvedev then correctly pointed to the inevitable link between “defensive”
missiles and “offensive” missiles:
“Given the intrinsic link between strategic
offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New
Start treaty could also arise,” he said.2
The Russian President didn’t mince words:
“I have ordered the armed forces to develop
measures to ensure, if necessary, that we can destroy the command and
control systems” of the U.S. shield, Medvedev said. “These measures are
appropriate, effective and low-cost.”
Russia has repeatedly warned that the U.S. BMD
global shield is designed to destabilize the nuclear balance and risks
provoking a new arms race.
The Russian President said that rather than take
the Russian concerns seriously, Washington has instead been “accelerating”
its BMD development.3 It was not the first time Medvedev threatened to take countermeasures to the
increasing Pentagon military encirclement pressure on Russia.
Back in November 2008 as the U.S. BMD threat was
first made known to the world, Medvedev made a televised address to the
Russian people in which he declared,
“I would add something about what we have
had to face in recent years: what is it? It is the construction of a
global missile defense system, the installation of military bases around
Russia, the unbridled expansion of NATO and other similar ‘presents’ for
Russia we therefore have every reason to believe that they are simply
testing our strength.” 4
That threat was dropped some months later when
the Obama Administration offered the now-clearly deceptive olive branch of
reversing the BMD decision to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia is threatening
to deploy its Iskander anti-BMD missiles in Kaliningrad
This time around Washington lost no time signaling it was in the developing
game of thermonuclear chicken to stay. No more pretty words about “reset” in
A spokesman for the Obama National Security
“we will not in any way limit or change our
deployment plans for Europe."
The U.S. Administration continues to insist on the
implausible argument that the missile defense installations are aimed at a
threat from a possible Iranian nuclear launch, something hardly credible.
The real risk of Iranian nuclear missile attack
on Europe given the reality of the global U.S. as well as Israeli BMD
installations and the reality of Iran's nuclear delivery capabilities, is by
best impartial accounts, near zero.
Two days earlier on November 21, Washington had thrown a small carrot to
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher said that
Washington was ready to provide information about the missile's speed after
it uses up all of its fuel. This information, referred to as burnout
velocity (VBO), helps to determine how to target it.5
That clearly was not seen as a serious
concession by Moscow, which demands a full hands-on partnership with the
U.S./NATO missile deployment to insure it will never be used against Russia.
After all, given Washington's track record of lies and broken promises,
there is no guarantee the speeds would even be true.
After the early October Brussels NATO defense ministers meeting, NATO head
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in regard to the nominally NATO European Missile
“We would expect it to be fully operational
Spain just announced it plans to join the
U.S.-controlled missile program, joining Romania, Poland, the Netherlands and
Turkey, which have already agreed to deploy key components of the future
missile defense network on their territories.6
The concerns of Russia are caused by the dramatic improvement of an entire
system of missile defense by Washington, which is taking the form of a
global BMD system encircling Russia on all sides.
The last time Washington's Missile Defense "Shield" made headlines was in
September 2009 early in the Obama Administration when the U.S. President
offered to downgrade the provocative stationing of U.S. special radar and
anti-missile missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.
That was a clear tactic to prepare the way for
Hillary Clinton ludicrously called the "reset" in
from the tense Bush-Putin days. However the strategic goal of encircling the
one nuclear potential opponent in the world with credible missile defense
remained U.S. strategy.
Barack Obama announced back then that the
U.S. was altering
Administration plans to station U.S. anti-ballistic missiles in Poland and
sophisticated radar in the Czech Republic.
The news was greeted in Moscow as
an important concession.7
Subsequent developments clearly show that far
from ditching its plans for a missile shield that could cripple any
potential Russian nuclear launch, the U.S. was merely opting for a more
effective global system, whose feasibility had been proven in the meantime.
To assuage the Poles, the Obama Administration also agreed to provide Poland
with U.S. Patriot missiles. Poland’s Foreign Minister then and now is Radek
Sikorski. From 2002 to 2005 he was in Washington as a resident fellow of the
American Enterprise Institute, a noted neo-conservative hawkish think-tank,
and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative, a project to bring as
many former communist countries of eastern Europe into NATO as possible.
Little wonder Moscow did not view U.S. missiles in
Poland as friendly, nor does it today.
In May 2011 the Obama Administration announced that the missiles it would
now give Poland consisted of new
Raytheon (RTN) SM-3 missile defense systems
at the Redzikowo military base in Poland (see map), roughly 50 miles from
the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, a unique piece of Russian real estate
not connected to mainland Russia, but adjacent to the Baltic Sea and
That puts U.S. missiles closer to Russia than
during the 1961 Cuba Missile Crisis when Washington placed ICBM’s at sites
in Turkey aimed at key Soviet nuclear sites. 8
The new Raytheon SM-3 missile is part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense
BMD) that will be aimed at intercepting short to intermediate range
ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Kinetic Warhead intercepts incoming ballistic
missiles outside the earth's atmosphere. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems
and Sensors developed the Aegis BMD Weapon System.
The SM-3 comes from
Raytheon Missile Systems.
The Polish SM-3 missile deployment is but one part of a global web
encircling Russia’s nuclear capacities. One should not forget that official
Pentagon military strategy is called Full Spectrum Dominance - control of
pretty much the entire universe. This past September the U.S. and Romania,
another new NATO member, signed an agreement to deploy a U.S.-controlled
Missile Defense System on the Deveselu Air Base in Romania using the SM-3
As well Washington has signed an agreement with NATO member Turkey to place
a sophisticated missile tracking radar atop a high mountain in the Kuluncak
district of Malatya province in south-eastern Turkey.
Though the Pentagon insists its radar is pointed
at Iran, a look at a map reveals how easily the focal direction could cover
key Russian nuclear sites such as Stevastopol where the bulk of the Russian
Navy’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed or to the vital Russian Krasnodar radar
The Malataya radar will send data to U.S. ships equipped with the Aegis combat
system that will intercept “Iranian” ballistic missiles.
According to Russian military experts, one of
the main aims of that radar, which targets at a range up to 2000 kilometers,
will also be the surveillance and control of the air space of the South
Caucasus, part of Central Asia as well as the south of Russia, in particular
tracking the experimental launches of the Russian missiles at their test
Further, the U.S.-controlled BMD deployment now also includes sea-based
“Aegis” systems in the Black Sea near Russia’s Sevastopol Naval Base, as
well as possible deployment of intermediate range missiles in Black Sea and
But the European BMS deployments of the U.S. Pentagon are but a part of a huge
global web. At the Fort Greeley Alaska Missile Field the U.S. has installed BMD ground-based missile interceptors, as well as at the Vandenberg Air
Force Base in California. And the Pentagon just opened two missile sites at
the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.
To add to it, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense
Force has joined formally with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to develop a
system of so-called Aegis BMD deploying the SM-3 Raytheon missiles on
Japanese naval ships.12
That gives the U.S. a Pacific platform from which
it can hit both China and Russia’s Far East as well as the Korean Peninsula.
These are all a pretty long and curious way to reach any Iranian threat.
Origins of U.S. Missile
The U.S. program to build a global network of ‘defense’ against possible enemy
ballistic missile attacks began back in March 23, 1983 when then-President
Ronald Reagan proposed the program popularly known as Star Wars, formally
called then the Strategic Defense Initiative.
In 1994 at a private dinner discussion with this author in Moscow, the
former head of economic studies for the Soviet Union’s Institute of World
Economy & International Relations, IMEMO, declared that it had been the huge
financial demands required by Russia to keep pace with the multi-billion
dollar U.S. Star Wars effort that finally led to the economic collapse of the
Warsaw Pact and to German reunification in 1990.
With a losing war in Afghanistan, collapsing oil
revenues caused by a 1986 U.S. policy of flooding the world market with Saudi
oil, the military economy of the USSR was unable to keep pace, short of
risking massive civilian unrest across the Warsaw Pact nations.13
This time around the U.S. BMD deployment is designed to bring Russia to her
knees as well, only in the context of a U.S. creation of what military
strategists call “Nuclear Primacy.”
Nuclear Primacy -
Thinking the Unthinkable
While the Soviet era armed forces have undergone a drastic shrinking down
since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Russia has tenaciously held on to
the core of its strategic nuclear deterrent.
That is something that gives Washington pause
when considering how to deal with Russia. The potential for Russia to deepen
its military and economic cooperation with its Central Asian partners in the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, above all with China, is something
Washington has gone to great lengths to frustrate. Such a strategic
cooperation is becoming increasingly a matter of life-or-death for both
China and Russia.
China’s nuclear arsenal is not yet strategic as
What the Pentagon is going for is what it has dreamed of since the Soviets
developed intercontinental ballistic missiles during the 1950’s. Weapons
professionals term it Nuclear Primacy.
Translated into layman’s language, Nuclear
Primacy means that if one of two evenly-matched nuclear foes is able to
deploy even a crude anti-ballistic missile defense system that can seriously
damage the nuclear strike capacity of the other, while he launches a
full-scale nuclear barrage against that foe, he has won the nuclear war.
The darker side of that military-strategic Nuclear Primacy coin is that the
side without adequate offsetting BMD anti-missile defenses, as he watches
his national security vanish with each new BMD missile and radar
installation, is under growing pressure to launch a pre-emptive nuclear or
other devastating strike before the window closes.
That in simple words
means that far from being “defensive” as Washington claims, BMD is offensive
and destabilizing in the extreme.
Moreover, those nations blissfully deluding
themselves that by granting the Pentagon rights to install BMS
infrastructure, that they are buying the security umbrella of the mighty
United States Armed Forces, find that they have allowed their territory to
become a potential nuclear field of battle in an ever more likely
confrontation between Washington and Moscow.
Dr. Robert Bowman, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force
and former head of President Reagan’s BMD effort of the 1980’s, then dubbed
derisively “Star Wars,” noted the true nature of Washington’s current
ballistic missile “defense” under what is today called the Department of
Missile Defense Agency:
"Under Reagan and Bush I, it was the
Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO). Under Clinton, it
became the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). Now Bush II
has made it the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and given it the freedom
from oversight and audit previously enjoyed only by the black programs.
If Congress doesn't act soon, this new
independent agency may take their essentially unlimited budget and spend
it outside of public and Congressional scrutiny on weapons that we won't
know anything about until they're in space. In theory, then, the space
warriors would rule the world, able to destroy any target on earth
Will these new super weapons bring the
American people security? Hardly."14
During the Cold War, the ability of both sides -
the Warsaw Pact and NATO - to mutually annihilate one another, had led to a
nuclear stalemate dubbed by military strategists,
MAD - Mutually Assured
It was scary but, in a bizarre sense, more
stable than what Washington now pursues relentlessly with its Ballistic
Missile Defense in Europe, Asia and globally in unilateral pursuit of U.S.
nuclear primacy. MAD was based on the prospect of mutual nuclear
annihilation with no decisive advantage for either side; it led to a world
in which nuclear war had been ‘unthinkable.’
Now, the U.S. was pursuing the possibility of
nuclear war as ‘thinkable.’
Lt. Colonel Bowman, in a telephone interview with this author called missile
“the missing link to a First Strike.”
The fact is that Washington hides behind a NATO
facade with its deployment of the European BMD, while keeping absolute U.S.
control over it.
Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin
recently called the European portion of the U.S. BMD a fig leaf for,
"a missile defense umbrella that says 'Made
in USA. European NATO members will have neither a button to push nor a
finger to push it with.” 16
That’s clearly why Russia continues to insist on
guarantees - from the United States - that the shield is not directed
Worryingly enough, to date Washington has
categorically refused that. Could it be that the dear souls in Washington
entrusted with maintaining world peace have gone bonkers?
In any case the fact that Washington continues
to tear up solemn international arms treaties and illegally proceed to
install its global missile shield is basis enough for those in Moscow,
Beijing or elsewhere to regard U.S. promises, even treaties as not worth the
paper they were written on.
1 David M. Herszenhorn, Russia Elevates
Warning About U.S. Missile-Defense Plan in Europe, The New York Times,
November 23, 2011.
4 Misha, Medvedev: Russia will Deploy Iskanders in Kaliningrad to
Neutralize New U.S. Missile Threat, Misha’s Russian Blog, December 30,
2008, accessed in http://mishasrussiablog.blogspot.com/2008/11/medevev-russia-will-deploy-iskanders-in.html.
5 RIA Novosti, U.S. ready to provide Russia with missile shield details,
Moscow, November 21, 2011, accessed in http://en.rian.ru/russia/20111121/168883920.html.
6 RIA Novosti, NATO's missile defense program to be fully operational in
2018 – Rasmussen, 5 October, 2011, accessed in http://en.rian.ru/world/20111005/167417252.html.
7 CNN, U.S. scraps missile defense shield plans, September 17, 2009,
8 Kenneth Repoza, Obama's Cold War? Raytheon Missiles On Russia's Border
By 2018, Forbes, September 15, 2011, accessed in
9 Missile Defense Agency, News and Resources various press releases and
program descriptions, accessed in http://www.mda.mil/news/news.html
10 Sergey Sargsyan, Turkey in the U.S. Missile Defense System: Primary
Assessment and Possible Prospects, 13 October, 2011, Center for
Political Studies, “Noravank” Foundation, accessed in
12 Missile Defense Agency, op. cit.
13 F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy
in the New World Order, Wiesbaden, 2010, edition.engdahl, p. 145.
14 Robert Bowman, cited in F. William Engdahl, op.cit., p. 161.
15 Ibid., p. 162
16 RIA Novosti, Nato Is Figleaf, November 1, 2011.