On February 7, the Telegraph reported on several secret State Department cables, divulged through WikiLeaks, that admit to problems with the proposed U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe — specifically that the warning radars were blind to nuclear missiles.
The focus of the leaked cables was a military briefing led by General Patrick O'Reilly, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in which he elaborated on the progress and functionality of the system in the Czech Republic.
According to Section 2 of the document, O’Reilly explained that it is an “X-Band radar which could only see in a straight line, not over the horizon; its range was approximately 2000 kilometers, its beam size was point 155 degrees; and it could not search and locate by itself.”
The section continued:
The key was that the Czech radar could not bend radio waves; its minimum elevation was two degrees, the same as the Qabala radar. Below two degrees, ground clutter would interfere. Thus, depending on the location of the launch, the first 245, 450 or 850 kilometers of flight could not be seen. Therefore, the radar was incapable of seeing a missile in the boost phase.
By the time the radar saw the missile, it would be too late to launch an interceptor. Rood added that, given the time necessary to assess a launch and fire an interceptor once the radar saw a missile, it would be too late to intercept a missile in midcourse either.
In response to Kislyak's question whether space interceptors could be used in the boost phase, Rood responded that the Administration had only requested $10 million from Congress in this year's budget and that Committees had so far not funded this small amount. Even with upgrades to the radar, Gen. O'Reilly continued, an X-band radar in the Czech Republic would never give the U.S. the capability to intercept Russia's ICBMs.
O'Reilly said it was possible that interceptors in Great Britain would be able to catch a Russian ICBM in time, but a radar in the Czech Republic with interceptors in Poland was too close.
This disturbing revelation contradicts the popular consensus among the Right and defense establishment personnel, who paint a rather rosy picture of U.S. missile defense progress.
The reason for this discrepancy of information between national defense conservatives and the WikiLeaks cables may be that the problem is not with the anti-missile projectiles, but rather with the early radar warning systems, which in turn puts into question whether American and Canadian-based U.S. radar systems are capable of performing their function of detecting what will hopefully never have to be detected — a nuclear missile strike on the U.S. mainland.
If such a horrific attack should occur, one would hope that U.S. radar facilities would detect it early enough to give at least some the chance of reaching either a bomb shelter or nuclear bunker, and to allow the federal government sufficient time to respond with an appropriate retaliation.
Luckily the leaked cable did not mention any problems with current radar systems in either the United States or Canada. The system in question is the radar outpost for the proposed U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Because the science and technical knowhow for nuclear missile development already exists and cannot be “unlearned” — i.e., turning back the clock on the German V-2 rocket or the Allied Manhattan Project of World War II — and in light of the geostrategic threats posed by both Moscow and Beijing, missile defense technology is an endeavor worthy of constitutionally-mandated defense spending, so long as it is within the country’s economic means and remains a U.S.-based initiative.
Unfortunately the latter is not the case; the missile defense project in question remains based in Poland and the Czech Republic for the security and protection of Europe.
The European missile defense shield was the brainchild of President George W. Bush, who envisioned providing Europe protection from a possible Iranian or North Korean missile attack.
Ironically, the shield — which was staunchly opposed by Russia and used as pretense for the retargeting of their ICBMs on European capital cities — was not intended to counterbalance Russia, since President Bush saw a man’s soul in Putin’s eyes and offered to share the technology with Russia, as it publicly admitted to building missiles capable of stealthily penetrating any U.S. missile defense system.
George W. Bush’s continuing of the interventionist NATO policies of preeminent liberal Democrats from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton was a break from the conservatism of past prominent statesmen such as Senator Robert Taft (aka "Mr. Republican") and constitutional Democratic Representative Larry McDonald, both of whom called for the termination of U.S. participation in NATO on the grounds of avoiding "permanent alliances" or "entangling alliances," as advocated by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson respectively.
Now Barack Obama, in seeking to implement George W. Bush’s foreign policy vision, has called for the establishment of a complementary sea-based missile defense system requiring a permanent U.S. naval presence of destroyers to deploy a missile defense net — further expanding the U.S. military commitment to European security rather than U.S. security.
Hawkish neoconservative Republicans who view Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela as the nation's greatest national security threats while at the same time actively promoting free trade and foreign aid to the main military benefactors of those states — Russia and China — remain unrelenting supporters of Bush’s neo-manifest destiny quest of American empire-building while ignoring the U.S. homeland national defense and soaring deficits that jeopardize the very country they plan for their children to inherit.
With the exception of knowledgeable statesmen such as Ron Paul, there seems to be no end of those in the federal government pressing for America's NATO expansionism and nation-building abroad, regardless of whether a George W. Bush or a Barack H. Obama occupies the White House.
Ironically, only a multibillion-dollar global governance bureaucracy can develop a nuclear missile defense system that is unable to detect nuclear missiles.
Perhaps the revelation of this failure will send the message to Congress to put an end to the wasteful taxpayer-money spending binge, and lawmakers will consider cuts to discretionary defense spending, as proposed by Senator Rand Paul in his $500-billion spending-cut solution to balance the budget and reduce the national debt.
Then again, considering the historic spending fetish of Congress, it is much more likely that funding of overseas missile defense programs will increase in order to “correct” the radar failure. What else is to be expected from an institution that views throwing money on problems as the answer to all the ills of society?
Photo: Ivo Zboril, head of Czech Army general staff's operation section, speaks to the media during their visit to the NATO radiolocation center at Nepolisy, Czech Republic, Feb. 8, 2007.: AP Images