In January 2019, the U.S. military has finally released a unclassified version of the Missile Defense Review. The report outlined plans to improve and expand the US missile defense shield, as well as add additional layers with space-based sensors and interceptors, technology to track and defeat hypersonic weapons, unmanned aircraft with lasers to shoot down threats and missile-hunting F-35 stealth fighters, among others.
“Missile defense is accorded a high priority in our investment plans because the need to do so is evident from our rigorous diagnosis of the strategic environment and detailed intelligence forecast of potential adversaries’ emerging and projected offensive missile developments.
They seek to use offensive missile threats to coerce us, our allies and partners, and are adding new and unprecedented types of offensive missile capabilities to their arsenals.
In the past several years, for example, North Korea rapidly advanced and expanded its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program. Iran extended the range of its ballistic missile systems and may seek to field an operational ICBM. While Russia and China pose separate challenges and are distinct in many ways, both are enhancing their existing offensive missile systems and developing advanced sea- and air-launched cruise missiles as well as hypersonic capabilities.
Missile defenses are a key element of our strategy given this proliferation of offensive ballistic and cruise missiles and emerging hypersonic weapons technologies that markedly raise threats to regional balances and to our major allies and partners. Our missile defense systems constitute a cornerstone of our efforts to deter a missile attack by a rogue state on the U.S. and make a clear contribution to our alliances. They must be robust, ready, and fit for our times,” the report said.
While the report provides a wide range of developments. However, the most important of them are the expanding missile defense, including their non-ballistic calabilities, including cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons, and the emphasis on new space-based systems, especially potential space-based weapons.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the report by own statement saying that the report is “openly confrontational and once again demonstrates Washington’s goal of achieving undivided military supremacy in the world and the ability to conduct with impunity military operations in defence of its interests in any part of the globe”.
“The review confirms Washington’s invariable policy of increasing the destabilising potential of global missile defence that is expected to be reinforced by new technological and financial resources. In so doing the Americans resolutely reject even the hypothetical possibility of any restrictions on their missile defence buildup and announce their intention to preserve complete freedom of action in this area.
It is noteworthy that the US considers legitimate a method of missile defence that provides for the preemptive, that is, pre-launch destruction of “threatening” missiles. In simple terms, this ornate formula which the US wants to sound at least a bit respectable means the mounting of preventive, “disarming” strikes against the countries that the US considers its enemies. We would like to recall that this logic is at the foundation of the large-scale nuclear arms race that has repeatedly taken the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. Despite intensive political and diplomatic efforts over the course of decades, its consequences have not yet been fully dealt with. Now it seems that the American leaders have decided to step on the same rake with the same predictable consequences.
Provisions concerning space-based missile defence are a source of particular concern. Along with upgrading sensors in orbit, the review actually gives the green light to the prospect of deploying missile defence attack weapons that are designed to destroy different types of missiles during the boost phase.
Implementation of these plans is bound to trigger an arms race in space, which will have most negative consequences for international security and stability. We would like to call on the US administration to listen to reason and give up these irresponsible attempts to re-launch the unforgettable star wars programme of the Reagan era on a new technological level,” the statement said.
China expressed strong dissatisfaction with and firm opposition to the US missile defense report’s hyping up “China threat.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying emphasized that the report, with a cold war mentality and outdated concepts such as the zero-sum game, has ignored the peace and development theme of the times and exaggerated geopolitical confrontation and great-power competition.
“The U.S. side’s move is not constructive at all,” Hua stressed emphasizing that it will jeopardize regional peace and security, impede the process of international nuclear disarmament, trigger arms races, and undermine global strategic balance and stability.
“We urge the U.S. side to abandon the cold war mentality, maintain global and regional peace with a responsible attitude and take concrete actions to safeguard international peace and stability.”
It’s interesting to note how top EU bureaucrats reacted to this situation. For example, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen penned a New York Times opinion piece on January 18. The article titled “The World Still Needs NATO” provides a radical ideology-driven attitude, which ignores real facts and logic of events exploting emotinal opinions. Such an approach was not observed even during the escalation of Cold War.
“The alliance is not just about bases and troops. It is about defending the world order,” the defense minsister claiming saying that the NATO represents an “emotional bond between the American and the European continents”.
Such emotional writting raises eyebrows among the audience.
On the other hand, repeated claims that NATO members “are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of its peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law” are just threadbare fiction. This is especially obvious while EU member states violate “the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law” on a daily basis.
The rest of the article also exploits propaganda mantras and emotional opinions, which hardly have links to the real situation in the European region and around the world. Nonetheless, this attitdue is useful to understand the current global standoff.
There is a notable difference between the aforementioned attitude and the approach of the administration of US President Donald Trump. Its actions are based on neorealism principles and it is openly working to strengthen the US offensive and defensive military capabilities. Chances that the Trump administration will intentially initiate a global conflict are close to zero. In turn, the attitude of the EU bureaucracy is based on post-structuralism ideas, whih exploit irrationalism. This very approach could instigate a global conflict.
“The world is a very dangerous place!”, President Trump said in November 2018.
The first month of 2019 shows that the world has become even more dangerous.