Bush Inc. brings back Star Wars

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Sec. Rumsfeld is the “Keeper of the Flame”

It is said that if you build a better mousetrap,
the world will beat a path to your
door. But if you.re a big honking military
contractor and you build a mousetrap
that doesn’t even work, the White House,
the Pentagon, and Congress will beat a
path to your door and dump unlimited billions of
our tax dollars on your front stoop.
This is the serendipitous situation for Boeing,
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, TRW, and other huge
weapons outfits that are wallowing in money thrown
at them by Washington to build a convoluted high-tech
mousetrap they.re calling National Missile
Defense (NMD). Sounds imposing, but it’s nothing
more than the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
dream that caught Ronald Reagan’s fancy 20 years
ago: Star Wars.

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Most people assumed that Reagan’s fantasy of
deploying an umbrella of space satellites firing
lasers to zap incoming missiles hurled at us by
our enemies had faded away
when Ronnie drifted off into
the sunset, but no.
Pentagon contractors
and their puppets
in Washington
have quietly kept
the program alive
with our tax dollars,
and now its back, bigger than
life, in the form of
NMD, being furiously
pushed by George
Bush, Dick Cheney,
Don Rumsfeld, and a
horde of corporate
lobbyists. It’s got a new name and
a new package, but it’s
the same old silliness
with the same old
problems, namely: It doesn’t
work, isn’t needed,
is too damn
costly, and makes our
nation weaker rather than
The saga of NMD is a case study in
how Washington works, and it’s one
more impetus for you and me to get
busy forging grassroots coalitions for a
new politics that just says no to such
ignorance and arrogance.

The greed head-industrial complex

Guess who said this: .Every gun that is
made, every warship launched, every rocket
fired signifies, in the final sense, a
theft from those who hunger and are not
fed, those who are cold and are not
clothed.. It wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr.,
Bobby Kennedy, or some squishy-hearted liberal.
It was Ike! Eisenhower, the Republican president
who’d been supreme commander of the allied
forces that crushed Hitler in Europe, was a
war man, but he had an abiding distrust of
the Pentagon’s collusive relationship
with the big military suppliers
that have insatiable corporate
appetites for keeping the war
machine chugging along.
It was 40 years ago in his
farewell address that President
Eisenhower solemnly warned
against the .acquisition of
unwanted influence. by what he
called the .military-industrial
complex,. telling the country that
.the potential for the disastrous
rise of misplaced power exists
and will persist..
NMD is the product of that corrupt
complex. The nerve center
of the Star Wars lobby has been
a group calling itself the Center
for Security Policy, established
and directed by Frank Gaffney Jr.,
a former Reagan Pentagon
appointee whom the New York
Times calls .the high priest of the
Reagan missile-defense vision..
Founded in 1988 with cash from
right-wing military hawks like
Richard Mellon Scaife and Joseph
Coors, the Center is the picture perfect
poster boy of the military industrial
Its 100-member advisory board
is a roll call of all-star Star Wars
champions, including such luminaries
as Edward Teller, the mad
scientist who planted the original
sugar-plum visions in Reagan’s
head. Rounding out the board are
almost two dozen current and
former members of Congress,
retired Pentagon officials, and six
defense-industry honchos from
Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Unlike most think tanks that
work on national-security issues,
the Center makes no pretense of
impartiality, unabashedly taking
financial support from the main
NMD contractors. Boeing,
Lockheed, and TRW, as well as
from others that will share the
multibillion-dollar pie, including
General Dynamics, Northrop
Grumman, and Rockwell
International. Guess what? These
corporate donations are tax-deductible,
meaning that we taxpayers
subsidize the Center’s propaganda.
Gaffney is candid about the
Center’s mission: .From our
inception, our organization has
been a champion of national missile
defense.. It has produced
such tracts as .Missile Defense:
Cheap at Twice the Price,. and a
Center spinoff financed a TV ad
that’s as subtle as a sledgehammer.
The ad shows babies in cribs
and children playing baseball,
interspersed with shots of missiles
raining down on the U.S. An
announcer intones ominously:
.Where will you be when the missiles
are launched?.
We could laugh this off as slapstick
from Dr. Strangelove,
except that this outfit is actually
driving policy in the Bush II
administration. Donald Rumsfeld,
Secretary of Delivering Boodle to
Defense Contractors, has been
tight with the Center. Gaffney’s
annual report cites the new
Defense Secretary as an .advisor
and faithful supporter..so faithful,
in fact, that Don received the
Center’s 1998 .Keeper of the
Flame. award, in the proud tradition
of previous awardees like
Newt Gingrich and the Gipper
himself. Attending the gala dinner
to applaud Rumsfeld were appreciative
members of the complex:
retired military officers,
Congressional leaders, and representatives
of Lockheed Martin
and other NMD contractors.
The Newt connection to NMD is
one of the crucial reasons why
we.re now faced with financing
this turkey. Back in 1994,
Gaffney and the Star Wars lobby
convinced Gingrich to include the
revival of Ronnie’s fantasy in his
Contract With America.
After Republicans won control
of Congress in the .94 elections,
Speaker Newt teamed up with
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
to appoint a special panel called
(cue the trumpets) the
Commission to Assess the
Ballistic Missile Threat to the
United States. Chairman of the
Commission? Donald Rumsfeld.
It will not surprise you that this
rigged panel concluded that the
CIA, Defense Department and
independent military analysts all
were wrong in their assessments
that there is no imminent threat
of anyone zinging a mess of missiles
at America the Beautiful.
The Rumsfeld Commission (as it
was dubbed by Newt, Trent, and
Don, seeking to puff up its significance)
breathlessly concluded
that North Korea, Iraq, and other
.rogue nations. could be raining
fire on us by 2005, so we’d
damned sure better be popping
up our NMD umbrellas PDQ.
Rumsfeld & Co. came to this
ominous conclusion using the latest
in threat-assessment methodology:
They made it up.

The phantom menace

One problem Star Wars devotees
have is finding an enemy
capable of lobbing missiles at
us, much less one that’s likely to
do so.
North Korea is most often trotted
out as Suspect No. 1. Hello?
North Korea? Its citizens are
starving, its industry is at a
standstill, it’s already agreed to a
moratorium on new missile tests,
it’s starting to make nicey-nice
with South Korea after a 50-year
standoff, and it’s said it’ll negotiate
to cut its rather primitive
missile-development programs in
exchange for some dollars, John
Deere tractors, and potatoes. To
top it off, our government has
officially declared that North
Korea is no longer to be considered
a rogue nation, downgrading
it to a .country of concern..
Still, the Rumsfeld Commission
adopted a worst-case scenario,
declaring that North Korea might,
maybe, could possibly become a
dangerous threat if some outside
high-tech power were to give it
the technology.
Apparently, the commission
meant China. But wait. China is
America’s business buddy. They
even have major deals with
Boeing, Lockheed, and the rest.
They.re going to risk all that for
some North Korean Scud aimed
at our heartland?
Messing with Uncle Sam these
days means messing with the Big
Dog. The fatal tactical flaw in
shooting at us is that every ballistic
missile has what U.S. intelligence
expert Robert Walpole calls
a .return address.. The only thing
a hypothetical enemy state would
ever get would be a swift and
massive retaliation by the U.S.
before their missile was halfway
to Topeka.
Nonetheless, the faulty findings
of the Rumsfeld Commission
gave the Star Wars lobby and its
Congressional zealots the PR
gloss they needed to push their
In this they were crucially aided
by the inherent wussiness of Bill
Clinton. He had long been an
NMD doubter, but when Newt’s
gang won the Congress in 1994,
Clinton panicked and decided it
would be smart politics to
embrace their bunkum. Doing his
inimitable triangulation two-step,
he adopted national missile
defense as one of his national,
security priorities, pouring billions
into more research, development,
and tests.
Who got these billions? Bingo if
you said Boeing, Lockheed,
Raytheon, and TRW. The Big Four
contractors have received 60% of
all NMD contracts, presently splitting
about $2 billion a year of
your and my money.
They.ve earned these contracts
the old-fashioned way: bribery.
Oh, they don’t call it that, they
call it .campaign contributions..
The four giants pumped more
than $7 million into both
Republican and Democratic campaigns
in the past two elections.
They.ve also spent more money
than the tobacco industry on lobbyists,
running up a two-year tab
of $32.3 million to hire
Washington influence peddlers,
including former members of
Congress and former officials of
the Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan
That’s a lot of loose change, but
it pays off like a stacked poker
deck. In 1998, for example,
Congress shoveled an extra billion
bucks into the Pentagon’s
NMD budget, labeling it .emergency
funding,. even though the
Pentagon had declared no emergency
and had not even requested
the money.

The damn thing doesn’t
even work

At the height of the Cold War,
there were atom-bomb drills in
U.S. schools. A siren would sound
and children were instructed to
take cover under their desks to
protect themselves from a nuclear
blast. That seems like good science
compared to the fanciful
notion that we.re going to have
missiles or laser beams that can
shoot down incoming missiles
hurtling toward us at more than
15,000 miles per hour. Besides the
fact that there is no present danger
of such an attack, there also is
no present possibility that the bullet-
hitting-a-bullet trick will work.
In the late 1990s, NMD underwent
three flight tests, and none
of them worked, despite the fact
that the tests were rigged to hide
a fundamental flaw in the missile defense
system: It can’t tell the
difference between an incoming
warhead and a decoy.
This is where we have to get a
little technical on you, so brace
yourself for the term of the
month: Exoatmospheric Kill
Vehicle. Let’s call it EKV, as the
Pentagon does. This baby, made
by Raytheon, is the key to NMD,
for it’s the gizmo (another scientific
term) that will be launched
into the sky to find and destroy
any enemy missile that’s been
fired at us.
Here’s the rub: The enemy, darn
it, won’t play fair. They’ll shoot a
missile (or several) at us, surrounded
by decoys. The decoys
can be as simple as (we.re not
making this up) striped balloons.
Poor EKV can’t tell the difference
between a warhead and a balloon,
so it misses. In the 1997 and
1998 tests, the Pentagon substituted
simpler and fewer decoys
than an enemy would use, yet the
EKV still failed.
For the July 2000 test, the
smart guys of the military-industrial
complex figured out what to
do: They eliminated the decoys
altogether. Of course, any potential
enemy will not be so generous,
but hey, the NMD crowd had
a lot riding on getting a .kill. in
this test, so they rigged it.
Theodore Postol and Nira
Schwartz, however, blew the whistle
on them. Dr. Schwartz was
senior engineer at TRW, and she
openly disagreed with the contractor
.s claim that the system could
differentiate between decoys and
warheads. She was fired.
Dr. Postol, who had worked on
missile defense in the Reagan
administration and is now an
arms expert at M.I.T., is even
more blunt about this .scientific
fraud,. saying Pentagon officials
.are systematically lying. about
EKV.s performance and have .put
flawed testing methods at the
heart of all its plans to develop
and build. the NMD.
Michael Munn, a retired
Lockheed Martin scientist and a
pioneer in designing and testing
such weapons, is also candidly
critical: .The only way to make it
work is to dumb it down,. adding
that manipulating these tests is
nothing new: .It’s always been a
wicked game..
For last year’s test, the manipulation
was ludicrous. no decoys,
plus the EKV was informed when
the mock .enemy. missile was
being fired, from where, how fast
it was going, and what its location
was throughout its flight.
Still, the system failed again.
Clinton could have gone public
with all this and stopped the
insanity, but, never one to pass
up a chance to equivocate. He
refused either to kill it or to order
the first stage of the failed NMD
to be built, leaving that decision
to George W. Bush.

A rush to failure

Dubya has long been a cheerleader
for restoring Reagan’s fantasy
to the national agenda. No
sooner was he sworn in than he
declared, in his own stumbling
way, his intention to rush ahead
with the failed system: .My point
is, is that I want America to lead
the nation,lead the world.
toward a more safe world when it
comes to nuclear weaponry..
Under Bush’s scheme, America
will lead neither the nation nor
the world to a safer place.
Indeed, if the U.S. is to deploy a
missile-defense system, we must
either violate or withdraw from
the 1972 Antiballistic Missile
Treaty. Oh, that thing,Rumsfeld
now says it’s .ancient history,.
since the evil empire of the
Soviet Union no longer exists.
Russia will want to protect its
interest by having enough missiles
to overwhelm our porous
missile shield. And the mere
mention of missile defense to
Russia has them pushing away
from the nuclear-disarmament
table. Since it’s far cheaper to
build more missiles than to build
a missile defense, the Chinese
(who now have only a small arsenal
of about 20 nukes) would
likely bulk up. This would force
the Japanese to consider building
their own nuclear missiles, and
India would also react to China’s
build-up. If India enlarges its
arsenal, so will Pakistan, and . . .
well, you see where this is going.
Meanwhile, here at home, building
the NMD will bust our budget
for a totally nonproductive product,
diverting public funds from
projects that truly can make
America stronger, such as good
health care for all, small classes
and top-trained teachers from K
through 12, and an energy-efficient
high-speed rail system
across the country.
Star Wars is a black hole for tax
dollars. On top of the $95 billion
spent so far, it will cost $60 billion
in the next few years just to
build the Yugo version of the system
that Clinton developed. Bush,
however, wants a Cadillac system
of sea-based EKVs, and he’s still
starry-eyed about the sci-fi delusions
of Reagan, saying he’ll consider
a space-based laser-firing
satellite system. Cost of Bush’s
extravagant scheme: $240 billion.
That’s a quarter of a trillion tax
dollars for some razzle-dazzle
rocket science that will fail to
defend us from an enemy that’s
not there anyway. This juice ain’t
worth the squeeze.
Former Air Force chief of staff
General Larry Welsh rightly calls
the deployment of this faulty system
a .rush to failure.. Star
Wars, NMD, whatever it’s called.
it’s a failure not only of technology
and military strategy, but a
failure of today’s corporate-driven
politics that overwhelms logic and
the public interest. Foisting this
boondoggle on us has nothing to
do with protecting us from enemy
missiles, and everything to do
with protecting executive pay
packages at Boeing, Lockheed,
Raytheon, and TRW.


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