«Bernd W. Kubbig Kontakt: Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung (DSF) Am Ledenhof 3-5 D-49074 Osnabrück Fon: +49.(0)541.600.35.42 Fax: ...»
The ‘pro-camp’ which principally favours the US multi-layered architecture consists of: the new democratic members of the North Atlantic Alliance – Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary (the latter albeit with reservations, when it comes to the willingness to host MDrelated facilities); the old NATO ally Denmark and India as the possibly evolving strategic American partner in Asia (as can be derived from New Delhi’s pragmatic position on the abrogation of the ABM Treaty); and probably Israel (Reuven Pedatzur does not explicitly mention this aspect). By contrast, in the ‘basket’ of the sceptics, critics and outright opponents are: Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea (both as tacit sceptics), Russia, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
The two European nuclear powers need additional attention. An especially interesting case is France. Contrary to its traditional America-critical stance and harsh rhetoric, as Ronja Kempin/Jocelyn Mawdsley put forward as their central thesis, Paris is undergoing a ‘silent revolution’: The argument has moved from the ‘theological to the technological’, and now focuses on the feasibility rather than the desirability of MD. Since the French arms industry favours all forms of co-operation with the United States on continental MD issues, Paris has muted its criticism on the American MD plans.
The initially criticised American hegemony project is now, in a conceptual u-turn, constructed as a potential key part of the French Revolution in Military Affairs in order to make it compatible with French-centred thinking. The position of Great Britain remains differentiated, too. Although London (like Copenhagen) has already become an active part of the American MD system by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which allows for upgrading the radar systems at Fylingdales, Smith makes clear: Britain’s ‘Yes’ to the US request was due to the fact that London took the military security of its major ally into consideration. The MoU was not concluded for the protection of Great Britain’s territory.
Unlike London and Copenhagen, the liberal Paul Martin government in Canada rejected a corresponding US request. It announced in early 2005 that it would not participate in a continental BMD architecture involving the joint Canada-North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Different from the cases of Denmark, the UK and the new European NATO members, Canadian participation is operationally not necessary, since Washington would go ahead with its MD plans anyway, and there would be an equivalent to NORAD regardless of Ottawa’s participation, with Canadian airspace strongly involved in any case. Nevertheless, Ottawa’s clear ‘No’ position was meant to be not only a politically powerful signal to its powerful southern neighbour, but also to the international community, aimed at the questionable principles of Washington’s hegemonic foreign policy in general and its MD policies in particular.
This signal concurs with that of the other above mentioned open and sometimes vocal sceptics or critics of a continental umbrella with a global range. They did not do what the US actually wanted its allies to do: to legitimise the Bush MD plans. To get such international support for its activities, which have increasingly been questioned at home, was the political motive of the Republican administration in inviting nations to join its programme. There have been no decisions so far, however, by the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey regarding a general participation in developing US technology for territorial defence.
Even the inconsistent and ambivalent positions taken by Germany and France could not be used for legitimisation purposes. To be sure, the Schröder/Fischer government with its basically sceptical position towards Washington’s plans to build a continental shield, actually undermined this critical stance by concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with Washington in order to develop (together with Italy) the tri-partite Medium Extended Area Defence System (MEADS). Needless to say, this system includes the participation of German companies. But it was politically ‘sold’ as participation in the tactical – and not in the con-tinental – parts of the American MD architecture. In the case of France, its strong interest in a comprehensive co-operation with the United States did not translate into a public legitimisation of the American activities, simply because the already mentioned revolution in the MD area is a silent one. And as to Russia, its interests in co-operating with the United States (and other NATO members) has been restricted to the tactical level only.
This differentiation follows the traditional lines of the 1972 ABM Treaty and the clarifying 1997 Demarcation Agreement which, broadly speaking, forbid ‘bad’ strategic interceptors but allowed ‘good’ sub-strategic/anti-tactical missiles.
2.3 Third Major Finding: Almost All Democracies Share a Consensus on TMD for the Protection of Troops/Small Areas It will not come as a surprise that the nations which favour a territorial umbrella, also explicitly or implicitly support the development, production and fielding of theatre MD systems mainly for the protection of soldiers in military operations (including interventions) in a hostile environment of ballistic missiles equipped with atomic, biological, and chemical weapons. In some other cases the declared objective is defence of small areas – depots in a military intervention or a few outstanding buildings on one’s own territory. With the probable exception of Canada, all of the examined democracies which are sceptical or even critical of the American territorial shield, favour or support in one way or another antitactical ballistic missiles (ATBM). This result reflects a deep split among the examined countries along the line of a continental shield versus point defence.
Some of the states which are critical of an American global shield have indigenous capabilities in the TMD area as shown by the Russian SA-300/400, the French Aster, the French/Italian SAMP/T project, and the US-German-Italian development of MEADS. One of the states critical of an American territorial umbrella and without having a domestic capability is the Netherlands, which has been a long-standing importer of US Patriot missiles (like Germany). Turkey is considering several import and co-development possibilities, among them projects with the United States and Israel, as Kazan reports.
India is weighing several options, too. New Delhi’s indigenous effort, as Rajagopalan writes, is centred around the domestically designed Akash long-range surface-to-air missile, which is still under development (Rajagopalan adds, that despite several changes of government since the mid-1990s India’s pursuit of MD has all in all not wavered, though it has not progressed very far).
These kinds of weapons systems have not only been sold (the United States being by far the largest exporter), they have also been delivered in order to protect allies in a war against hostile missiles. Germany has done so in both Gulf Wars (1991, 2003) when it sent its Patriot systems to Israel; The Netherlands did so, too, in 1991. In addition, in the context of the last war against Iraq, Berlin delivered its Patriots to NATO member Turkey, where they were operated by Dutch soldiers. 16 Many of the examined democracies began their TMD activities during the Cold War and most of them, as already mentioned, preceded the George W. Bush government. Here again, the spirit of the ABM Treaty was alive and still is. Those countries which regarded the continental defence plans by the most powerful democracy, the United States, as ‘bad’, considered their own TMD activities as ‘good’, because they did not violate the agreement and did not raise concerns of instability. The clearest sign that this benign view of antitactical missiles has survived the abrogation of the agreement, at least at the government level, is: Actually none of the criticism on the territorial shield is applied to TMD.
They are regarded as affordable weapons systems, albeit involving conflicts of priorities among military projects, not to mention civilian ones. Anti-tactical systems are also seen as 16 See on this the articles by Kazan, Kubbig, Nitsche, and Everts in the Special Volume.
technologically feasible, although the results for instance of the last war against Baghdad revealed severe problems – the Patriots shot down several aircraft belonging to their own forces, and neither detected the five Silkworm Cruise Missiles nor Frog short-range rockets. In addition, if would-be-proliferators turn increasingly to these kinds of weapons or to smaller ones, ATBMs will become less important, as they are by design powerless against those weapons. The war against Lebanon in summer 2006 has shown this: Israel’s Arrow system was not able to intercept the incoming rockets launched by the Hezbollah.
All governments consider TMD in principal to be part of the solution to the proliferation problem – and rarely as part of the problem. Only some German experts in the Foreign Ministry have raised concern that the increasing TMD co-operation and export activities may contribute to the proliferation of delivery vehicles because of the technological affinity between missiles and anti-missiles. Pedatzur also reminds us that the political importance of the Patriot during the 1991 Gulf War should not be underestimated because they helped to keep Israel out of the conflict. On the other hand, this author is extremely critical of Israel’s Arrow programme: Pedatzur cites a leading supporter of this project, according to whom it will not be a reliable component in the country’s strategic defence planning against nuclear-tipped missiles.
The major deficit and future challenge for the TMD supporters is to present credible scenarios for the operations of troops in hostile WMD environments. This was at least the case in the German debate on MEADS, but Everts reminds us that this credibility gap is not restricted to the Federal Republic. The number of countries with missile programmes – some 24 states – with a range up to 1,000 kilometres is frightening at the first glance.
Fortunately, this number can be considerably reduced if one links these weapons to the (potentially) hostile character of non-democratic or authoritarian states. Syria and Egypt appear to be the only delicate candidates in this category. 17 There is also a good clear-cut message: Proliferation is not necessarily an automatically upwards winding spiral – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya do not constitute any longer a tactical missile threat.
2.4 Fourth Major Finding: Missile Defence as a Viable Response to WMD Proliferation Remains, Despite Some Variance, All in All Limited At issue here is progress and yardsticks for the entrenchment of the MD idea. Given the long-standing efforts with all MD variants, especially since the George W. Bush administration came to power, one might expect major progress in establishing MD not only in the military thinking, but also in doctrines and operations. As the corresponding articles make clear, the answer is ambivalent at best, however. This applies even to those democracies which favour one or all of the MD variants presented. This ambivalent result is based on the analyses of two major dimensions: first, the relationship between defence and deterrence; second, the relevance of defence as an anti-proliferation tool which is also a part of the broader diplomatic and military instruments.
Concerning the first dimension, the relationship between defence and deterrence: There is a virtual consensus that nuclear deterrence is no longer sufficient and that it needs to be enhanced by (tactical) MD – yet on the conceptual/doctrinal and operational level, a revitalised deterrence concept in the context of pre-emption/prevention has prevailed. MD is 17 See Joseph Cirincione with Jon B. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats (Washington, D.C: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2nd edition, 2005), pp. 105-117.
much more than merely introducing new weapons systems. Many of its supporters have started from the assumption that it is morally superior to and helps to overcome and finally replace the current nuclear deterrence-based security structure of mutual assured destruction by providing a new security arrangement aimed at mutual assured survival. This would amount to a truly profound revolution in military affairs across the board – including thinking, doctrine, and operations. If the coming into being of the nuclear age is any guide for the development of MD, there must be a revolutionary military innovation at some point such as the nuclear bomb as a minimum precondition – yet a silver bullet has not been found in the MD area.
As various contributions make clear, the ambitious ‘replacement paradigm’ is nowhere present anymore, the major reason being that the underlying revolutionary philosophy of a ‘bullet hits a bullet’ has technologically not been put into reality. The already mentioned rudimentary ground-based MD system that has been fielded by the Bush administration is living proof of the technological difficulties and deficiencies. The editorial of ‘The New York Times’ reflecting the state of the art by highlighting the gap between false promise and cruel technological reality is in fact a verdict over the entire MD programme in the United
‘In a rare moment of candor this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that he’s not sure if the U.S. MD system is ready to work. When asked if the shield could protect the United States from a North Korean missile attack, Rumsfeld said he’d need to see a full test of the system “end to end” before he could answer.
Rumsfeld, we suspect, may have been trying to lower expectations as the Pentagon prepares for its first significant test of the troubled system in 18 months. But his comments should invite a serious discussion on Capitol Hill about what the United States is getting for the nearly $9 billion it is spending this year to develop ballistic MDs and the $9 billion it is likely to spend next year.
[…] Stopping a ballistic missile in mid-flight is a very hard thing to do. So is switching technologies or killing off a bad system when you’ve already sunk billions into hardware. What’s needed here is an honest assessment of whether the current system has any chance of working and how much more will have to be spent before it does.