By MIAN AKHLAQ-UR-RAHMAN
Taking positions in space, without consolidating the ones on the ground, USA faces isolation and ground vulnerability at the expense of a monopoly in space. By 2008, when the skies will be full with “Brilliant Pebbles” and “Brilliant Eyes”, the USA space-sensors-interceptors, USA might have prompted inroads to the vulnerable portals of its ground defenses, national economy and cultural milieu.
Trajectories capable of carrying conceptual or material loads have always been a source of concern. Those rising from the launching pads of minds, carrying conceptual loads have never been successfully intercepted, and have ultimately hit their targets even if initially obstructed a number of times. However, those carrying material loads, missiles in current terminology, nuclear or conventional, a source of true concern, can be successfully intercepted and destroyed somewhere in their course before they reach their target and this was successfully demonstrated when on June, 13, 2002, Thursday, Pentagon report, a Raytheon- made Standard Missile-32, fired from the cruiser USS Lake Eric intercepted an Aries Ballistic Missile fired eight minutes earlier from Kauai, Hawaii. The interception of a target at an altitude of 100 miles (160 km), established the capability of ALI (Aegis Lightweight Expo-atmospheric Projectile Intercept) system.
It all began with the Nazi Missile Program of World War-II, which included the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Taking the inspiration after the World War-II, U.S.A. and Russia playing the cold war under the ashes of the two fiery world engagements began to experiment and develop missiles. Foreseeing no end to this program, both Russia and USA concluded, in 1972, the Anti Ballistic Missiles Treaty, limiting the deployment of each country to two strategic sites each. By early eighties, fearing that Russia has acquired the first strike nuclear capability, the strategic analysts convinced President Roland Reagan on developing missile defenses, this resulted, in 1987, in the approval of the establishment of the Strategic Defense System, SDS, this comprised of six major subsystems, including a space-based interceptor, SBI, a ground-based interceptor, a ground-based sensor, and two space-based sensors. Fear, triggered by the striking capability of ASAT, Soviet Anti–Satellite Weapon, made USA to replace SBIs with an interceptor concept called Brilliant Pebbles, now Soviet ASATs would have to contend with thousands of interceptors orbiting the earth, small and hard to find. A strategic development occurred with the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, in 1990 and the Operation Desert Storm by the USA and its allies against Iraq, in 1991. The battleground witnessed for the first time operational engagement between a ballistic missile and a missile defense system. In 1991, President Bush announced GPALS, Global Protection Against Limited Strikes, which had a ground-based National Missile Defense, NMD, a ground-based Theater Missile Defense, TMD, and a Space-Based Global Defense, and ultimately considering it an impediment, USA unilaterally withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty in 2001.
Not warranted, the desire to monopolize the skies was however always there in the American mind. President Lyndon Johnson noted, during Americas’ space race with Soviet Union, “Out in space, there is the ultimate position-from which total control of the earth may be exercised…Our national goal and the goal of all free men must be to win and hold that position”. “Vision for 2020”, the report of the US Space Command states, “Over the past several decades, space power has primarily supported land, sea and air operations-strategically and operationally. During the early portion of 21st century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare. Likewise, space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance”, this is an important part of the American dream to achieve total dominance in space, land, sea and air.
In the present highly integrated world no decision is taken in isolation. It was never so even in the remote past even when in external relations the concerns were limited to immediate neighbors. External contingencies influenced domestic policies and domestic agendas influenced external relations. The National Missile Defense program of USA with Theatre Missile Defense System, its branch for USA allies, is not an isolationist decision taken without any external consideration, rather, it is a decision prompted by the development in the external world.
USA should reconsider the ground realities and take into account its policies. As far as NMD is concerned it should take as partners, Russia, China, Japan, EU, and other willing countries of Asia and Middle East that would like to join, not the way USA has negotiated with Czech and Poland to install the missile interceptor systems, with Russia sounding concerns. The system should protect all the member countries from accidental missile threats, and, against deliberate threats from rogue states. People of the world too need protection as the people of the USA. If the needs of other people are not taken into consideration, then the NMD will also meet the fate of NPT, which lacking means for peace and being devoid of any moral or humanitarian considerations for the peace of the people of the world, and in the absence of an international system of justice available to all without prejudice, became ineffective. Let the nuclear capability develop, because the nuclear energy is the cheapest and its availability will strengthen the global economy and benefit enormously the poor and energy starved people and states of the world, however the vehicles to carry nuclear bombs, in case a rogue state decides to build a bomb and use it on some other state, should be banned, of these the ballistic missiles are the first to be taken care of and the vehicles, air-craft carriers, the next. Without these the bombs, even if somebody developed would be of no purpose and use.
In the broader context, NMD is a result of weakness in USA foreign policy that has, over the past some decades and especially after it began to ruthlessly pursue its imperialistic policy, quite in contrast to its domestic agenda, which has freedom, tolerance, liberty and mutual respect as its guiding principles, earned more enemies then friends. USA, that was previously pursuing the policy of reaching out, to the strategic geo-political countries, and earning cooperation and understanding of its positions, is being, after miserably failing in these grounds, forced to withdraw, like a tortoise to its own shell and adopt a policy of withdrawal and defense aimed primarily at strengthening the domestic defense, domestic economy, and domestic social structure.
US policy to turn into solid turf the thin ice on which it is treading should chalk out a comprehensive policy—democrats across the world should be strengthened—rights of self-determination should be supported and resolved through UNO—status quo in favor of the oppressors should be abandoned and people of the world should be educated in peace and peaceful means—UNO should be given the major role in global policy formation and USA should stop being the global marshal, which creates and invokes unwarranted jealousies and antagonisms. U.N. teams should survey, analyze and point out the existing and the potential conflicts, economic, territorial, ethnic, religious, etc, in the world and U.N. should form teams and forums for their resolution in time, to ensure a safe and tolerant world in the future. If mutual respect and peace is not achieved and the whole world becomes vulnerable to the missile defense and offence strategies of the USA and its allies and satellite countries around the world, then the USA should seriously consider, what will be the points of vulnerabilities of USA that the opponent countries would like to explore.