The Parallax Brief

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Unrepentant Subjectivity on Economics, Politics, Defence, Foreign Policy, and Russia

Parallax Brief Savaged on Missile Defense

The Parallax Brief always hoped that his brazen subjectivity would incite some bare-knuckled debate, and his article on the US Anti-Ballistic-Missile shield seems to have done just that.

More Missile Shield Misunderstandings was forwarded by a reader to a former US Defense Department analyst, who has penned the following withering rebuke of the Parallax Brief’s argument. Although it was originally sent for approval for as a comment on the “About” page, the Parallax Brief believes it is too long for a comment, and well written and tightly argued enough for its own post. It is published in full and unedited. The author wishes to remain anonymous.

For those who are interested in getting the facts about American-Russian relations, and specifically defense-related issues, I just couldn’t resist writing a reply to the Parallax Brief post that was recently forwarded.

First of all, I offer the Parallax Brief author’s succinct statement seen on his website:

“I have no qualifications to write on these matters other than strong opinions; make no promises to be impartial, maintain objectivity or stick rigidly to the abovementioned topics; and I would love to incite some bare-knuckled debating.”

I personally could not have stated it better, and appreciate his honesty.  This statement is self-evident in what was written about the missile shield issue.

Second, as someone who does have experience not only in the field of American-Russian relations, but more specifically in the area of disarmament and nuclear missile force-posture, I believe that I can offer at least some objectivity to the debate.

Let me begin by stating that the author’s suggestion that Russia’s defense against a US first strike would somehow be undermined by the presence of a missile shield in Eastern Europe is patently absurd.  Russia’s ability to launch a counterstrike in such an unlikely event cannot be undermined by the existence of an ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) system in one small country.  A US counter-force First strike would definitely incur a counter strike by surviving Russian forces.  The small-scale system they are contemplating for the Czechs cannot possibly provide even a low-grade defense for US missiles.  The reasons are simple: The US itself currently has no missiles in Eastern Europe, period.  And, US intermediate-range missiles have been eliminated from Western Europe as a result of the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) treaty that was signed back in the 80s.

Such an ABM system as that planned for the Czech Republic provides zero force protection to US subs, bombers or ICBMs (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles).  The only possible protection such a system can provide against Russian-launched weapons would be for the Czechs, the Poles and perhaps some of the other European countries, including former members of the Warsaw Pact.  If intermediate-range nuclear missiles have largely been scrapped from Europe, then what is so terribly wrong with the Europeans having something, however small, to protect Europe from a nuclear attack?  The European Union currently poses no threat to Russia’s defense, period.

And Russian missiles targeting US forces take the shortest possible trajectory, meaning across the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, from their own sub-based platforms and bomber forces.  Their trajectory does not pass through European air space.

The author talks of the undetectability of US stealth bombers as well as the short notice related to submarine-launched systems.  Those vulnerabilities are mutually shared by both powers, though the Russians do lack some of the involved technologies, while they do possess some technologies not currently in the US inventory.  However, Russian nuclear forces retain numerical superiority (something that was allowed for in both the INF and START Treaties to compensate for a perceived technology gap).

The ABM system proposed for the Czech Republic can cause only one potential irritation to the Russians:  The audacity of the US in placing a missile “shield” (an acknowledged misnomer) in the territory of one of Russia’s former allies (or should we say “proxy states?”).

Such a system poses no offensive threat, no assurance of the elimination of Russian nuclear strike capabilities in a first strike, and no threat against Russia’s ability to launch a counter strike in the highly unlikely event of a US first strike.

The points the Parallax author raises are moot.  My suggestion is that if someone does not have the objectivity nor the expertise to adequately address a topic, then the best thing that person can do is keep silent.  There is enough confusion in the world regarding such issues as it is.

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5 Responses

  1. David says:

    Talk about putting someone in their place!

    Perhaps Parallax Brief would consider giving us his take on the recent faux-par committed by the US State Department and their English/Russian translation of the word ‘Reset’… the new boys and girls at State don’t seem to be working to 100% capacity yet!

  2. rotus says:

    The missile shield idea is descended from Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars”program, which was going to protect the whole world against attacking itself by shooting down all the missiles in the stratosphere before they could do any harm. Ronny was planning to share “Star Wars” with Russia so everyone would be safe. It was an enormous expensive fake designed to drive the Soviets into bankruptcy by outspending them on research. Now we have some missiles that maybe could shoot down a few other missiles under carefully controlled circumstances and we pretend to be proposing to protect Europe with them against a theoretical attack from Iran.

    As they say in New York, fuggetaboudit! President Obama would like to trade these missiles for some help from Russia in talking Iran down off the ledge. That seems like a better deal for everyone all around and much cheaper, too. I would suggest that President Medvedev take him up on his offer.

    • parallaxbrief says:

      In general terms the Parallax Brief agrees with you, Rotus, and thinks that one of the problems with the shield is that it has been the pet project of group of men that dominated the previous administration since they were organizing Team-B to ‘balance’ CIA analysis (in the end, with hysterical anti-Soviet fantasies). They wanted it in the 80s, and regaining power — with far more leverage than they ever had under Reagan — was the ideal opportunity to push it through.

      As things stand, the Parallax Brief sees the shield as little more than a monstrously expensive, giant pork barrell for the defense industry in the US; however, as nobody is concerned with the blue print of a next generation fighter, they do get concerned when the new technology laid out in that blue print reaches maturity in the form of an F-22, so the Russians are likely concerned with where the ABM shield is leading.

  3. Adamodeus says:

    I’ll meet the State Department guy on his own turf:

    A quote from his response: “The only possible protection such a system can provide against Russian-launched weapons would be for the Czechs, the Poles and perhaps some of the other European countries, including former members of the Warsaw Pact.” In lies admission that this is in fact a system directed against Russian, not Iranian missiles, so they’ve been lying all along. Whatever it is, no matter how powerful or capable that is directed against Russia will naturally make the Russians nervous – an unwise move at best. If a system – any system – is directed against Russia in some way it’s a sure bet Russia will be against it. Is he saying that should Russia put a similar system in Mexico, the US won’t mind? The fact that it’s not going to do much harm to stop an US nuclear attack is not the point, is it? Fact is – that Polish radar would cover almost all of Russia to the Ural mountains! Hello?

    It’s just one in a long series of covert anti-Russian moves by the US. They can say whatever they want, but the facts speak for themselves:

    They promised to NATO expansion after German reunification and have been expanding every since, going for Ukraine and Georgia now. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the number of Russia military bases abroad has been steadily declining and all we see now is a few bases in the countries of the former Soviet Union. The US has been steadily increasing its presence all over the world.

    The “missile shield” in Europe is merely a step in a comprehensive series of moves directed against Russia. Everyone seems to have forgotten that the US unilaterally abandoned the ABM treaty on December 13, 2001 for some inexplicable reason, or rather, “because it doesn’t suit the interests of the United States”. In an of itself, the “missile shield” is obviously incapable of tipping the balance, but as one in a series of measures?

    If the “missile shield” were directed against Iran, it would make a lot more sense to place the ABM system in Kuwait, where the US already has a huge presence ( List of United States Army installations in Kuwait – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ), or in Eskan Village Air Base in Saudi Arabia, for example, or many other locations in the region. At least the territory of Iran would actually be covered by the radar from those locations and any rogue missiles going to Europe would be detected much earlier! Instead, the “anti-Iran” shield is… in the Czech republic?! And the US administration is saying that with a straight face!

  4. Tim Newman says:

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that the US unilaterally abandoned the ABM treaty on December 13, 2001 for some inexplicable reason, or rather, “because it doesn’t suit the interests of the United States”.

    Or, to state another possible reason, that the political entity with which it had signed the agreement no longer existed.

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