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Debate: European missile defense

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Is the idea of missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland justified?

Background and context

In 2002, the Bush Administration began exploring the idea of installing missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.
This has come to be known as European Missile Defense.
While not all of Europe supports the idea - and, in fact, there is significant opposition - many in Europe do support the idea as a means of protecting against any nuclear weapons threat posed by Iran, in particular. This assumes that Iran's nuclear program is being developed for nefarious weapons purposes. There is significant concern in Europe that traditional deterrence may not constrain Iran from launching nuclear missiles against Europe or possibly against the United States. In both cases of a limited strike of a couple of nuclear missiles, a European Missile Defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic is believed to be capable of providing some defense. Some also believe a European Missile Defense System could be directed toward defending against Russia, although others dispute that such a defense is futile against the overwhelming power of the Russian nuclear arsenal. In general, the debate surrounds whether deterrence can hold against either Russia or Iran, without a missile defense system. It also relates to whether a missile defense system is technically feasible, or whether it is too expensive and cost-ineffective.

See Wikipedia's article on National Missile Defense

Contents

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Security: Would a missile defense system increse European security?

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Yes

  • More rogue states are producing WMD and ballistic missiles a recent report from the UK Ministry of defense (MoD). "[A]t current rates of progress, it seems likely that, well before 2030, one or more of these [proliferating] states will have ballistic missiles capable of reaching the UK carrying chemical or biological payloads and, potentially, nuclear weapons."[2]
  • Missile defenses are inherently defensive, not offensive Peter Brookes. "The Case for European Missile Defense". Heritage. March 14, 2008 - "despite the range of concerns about missile defense, it should be emphasized that missile defense is a defensive—not offensive—weapon. Indeed, the dominant design of the missile defense interceptor warhead does not even contain an explosive charge; traveling at 15,000 miles per hour, it destroys the missile warhead by the sheer force of the collision. Therefore, the idea that missile defense is an offensive system, as many have suggested, is patently false. In a way, missile defense is like an umbrella; it is only needed if it rains."
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No

  • Both missile threat and missile defense do not exist Magnus Ranstorp, research director for the Swedish Defense College, and one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism, wrote, "It’s a defense system that doesn’t yet work intended to stop a threat that does not yet exist."[3]
  • Missile defense systems are offensive in nature Lieber, Keir A. / Press, Daryl G. "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy". Foreign Affairs. 2006 - "the sort of missile defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one -- as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield. If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China), the targeted country would be left with a tiny surviving arsenal -- if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile-defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes, because the devastated enemy would have so few warheads and decoys left."
Similarly MDA’s Obering has a briefing that claims the threat from enemy missiles is growing and shows missiles in 20 countries. But all but two of those 20 countries - Iran and North Korea - are either friends, allies, or countries from which we have no missile threat, e.g. Israel, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, South Korea, Moldova, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.
Moldova??? Yes, and recently Venezuela was added to the list. (…)"


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Iran: Is Iran a missile threat?

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Yes


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No

  • Iran would not use missiles; they lack "plausible deniability" Magnus Ranstorp, research director for the Swedish Defense College, and one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism. - "Iranians always leave themselves plausible deniability. In supporting international terrorism in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon or Shi’ite efforts in Iraq, they work through third parties, and stay in the shadows themselves."


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Effectiveness: Is a missile defense system effective?

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Yes

  • Missile defense systems are becoming effective and reliable Sally McNamara, Baker Spring and Peter Brookes. "Missile Defense: Debunking Arguments Against the Third Site in Eastern Europe". Heritage Foundation. November 6, 2007 - "Myth #3: Missile defense is not well tested or reliable. ... Not so. On September 28, 2007, some 75 miles into space over the Pacific Ocean, a kill vehicle from America's missile defense system destroyed the mock warhead of a long-range missile. This test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system provides further evidence that its "hit-to-kill" technology works. The GMD interceptor destroyed the mock warhead by the force of collision and did not use an explosive warhead of any kind....Hit-to-kill technology is common to a variety of missile defense interceptors now in either development or deployment. In addition to the GMD system, the technology is used in the Navy's Standard Missile-3, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Patriot PAC-3 interceptors. Roughly 80 percent of recent tests across all four of these programs have been successful....Yet, critics continue to argue that missile defense will prove ineffective. Congress should reject arguments that cloak policy preference in technical analysis and should protect Americans with a policy of designing and building the most effective missile defense system possible."


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No

Decoys can include objects which provide a close representation of the attacking enemy missile or its warhead encased in a re-entry vehicle. For example, a simple balloon in the shape of a cone – the shape of a re-entry vehicle – would travel out in space as fast as the RV itself and might be confusing to the defender. An enemy missile could carry many of these balloons (…)
Countermeasures could include chaff or debris deliberately scattered by the attacker with the target missile or warhead to reflect the search radar of a missile defense system. This might be short metal rods – like paper clips – of the proper length, or bits of metal foil to reflect the radar, or to cloud the view the radar might otherwise have of the target.



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Russia: Does Russia oppose a European defense system?

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Yes

  • European missile defenses would not counter Russia-to-US attack Peter Brookes. "The Case for European Missile Defense". Heritage. March 14, 2008 - "The Kremlin also insists the limited system would undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent, despite the fact that a Russian land-based nuclear strike on the United States would not be launched on a trajectory over Poland, but would fly toward its American targets over the North Pole, or Iceland and Greenland, depending on the targets. [...] In fact, according to the MDA, the proposed kinetic kill vehicle designated for deployment in Poland is simply not fast enough to catch a Russian land-based ICBM in a tail-chase scenario. These interceptors, therefore, would have no capability against Russia's sea- or air-based deterrence capabilities. (Interestingly, at the time, Moscow did not object to the U.S. decision six years ago to deploy missile defenses at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base and Alaska's Fort Greely to counteract the still-evolving North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat.)"



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No

Russian Foreign Minister said in a written statement, "There is no doubt that the approachment of elements of the U.S. strategic arsenal to the Russian territory could be used to weaken the potential of our deterrent. If the real deployment of the U.S. strategic missile defense system begins near our borders, then we will have to respond using not diplomatic but military-technological methods."[4]


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Arms race: Can a European missile defense system avoid causing an arms race?

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Yes

  • European missile defense will not incite new arms race "Missile Defense and Europe". State Department. March 28, 2007 - "The debate should not be, in my view, about issues of 20 years ago and issues of a so-called arms race, and in this context I was struck that today, today in Berlin as a matter of fact, the Americans and Russians are sitting down to discuss post-START issues and transparency issues for the post-START regime after the START Treaty expires. I mention this because the transparency and confidence-building measures which we're going to be discussing are a part and an illustrative part of the developing good strategic relationship between the United States and Russia as we address the new world that we face together. It is also true that the Treaty of Moscow, which reduced arms, reduced warheads on both sides, is being implemented. To remind you, it calls for massive reductions in warheads on both sides, down to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the end of 2012. The United States is on target to meet reductions. Russia is well on target to meet reductions. So the notion that somehow missile defense has to be seen as part of an emerging arms race between the United States and Russia, which is some of the odd commentary I hear from some Europeans, has no relationship to reality and the debate about missile defense ought to be conducted in a way, it seems to me, that reflects reality."


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No

  • European missile defense reawakens Cold War tensions and conflict Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison. "Pushing Missile Defense in Europe". February 22, 2008 - "When the Soviet Union first built a limited missile defense system in the late 1960s, the United States responded by building up a nuclear strike strategy to overwhelm the new technology. The cycle of nuclear one-upmanship was partially halted by the ABM Treaty, but then the Bush administration withdrew from the treaty in 2002. Now, writes Hans Kristenson of the Federation of American Scientists, “history repeats itself, but the table has been turned. Today it is the United States building a limited missile defense system (more capable than the Soviet system, but purportedly focused on “rogue” state missiles), and it is the Russians who say they need to target it to maintain the effectiveness of their deterrent. The Cold War may be over, but military and policy planners in both countries still think in Cold War terms."
  • Former French president Jacques Chirac said in 2001, U.S. missile defense plans "cannot fail to relaunch the arms race in the world."[5]


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Czech Republic: Is the missile defense plan for the Czech Republic a good idea?

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Yes

  • Radar in Brdy is vital to Czech Republic's security. Radar (or any other component of the missile defence system) is of great importance to the security of the Czech Republic (as well as Europe). It makes the Czech Republic an important NATO member who must be protected - in the interest of each and every state protected by the missile defence system.
  • Public opinion is immaterial. Public opinion should not be taken into consideration when national defence is at stake, mostly because the main problem is NIMBY: People might want missile defence - but not right in their backyard. Unfortunately, any place for missile defence is someone's vicinity, which - if taken into consideration - would prevent the government from taking any such politically unpopular steps.
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No

  • Missile defense in the Czech Republic makes the country a target Josef Skuhra, 57, a Czech village maintenance worker. - "We’ve always been happy being forgotten about, but now Russia and the United States, who have always been enemies, fight over us. And once the Americans start building, how long can it be before even Osama bin Laden knows our name?"[6]
  • Missile bases are illegitimate without popular approval The current attempt to place a base here, this time from the other direction, would serve to reawaken the Cold War in Europe and could reignite a new arms race. It is unthinkable that a democratic country should make a decision of such long-range impact, as the acceptance of a foreign military base on its soil, without an open debate. Neither the government nor Parliament has the mandate to make such a decision alone. This is a question which requires the input of the broad public because the population will have to live with the effects of such a base long after the current Parliament finishes its term and all the current polititians are retired. The only responsible way to make such serious decision is by referendum.


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Poland: Is a missile defense system in Poland favorable?

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Yes

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No


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Sovereignty: Is it consistent with national sovereignty?

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Yes

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No

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Politics: Is a European missile defense system politically beneficial?

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Yes


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No

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US interests: Is a Euroepan missile defense system in Us interests?

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Yes

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No

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Alternatives: Is European missile defense indispensable or do alternatives exist (ie space)?

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Yes

In fact, they're complementary. The Bush Administration's overall approach to missile defense is to field a layered missile defense capability for countering missiles of different ranges on a worldwide basis.This capability entails a variety of components that are optimized to counter different kinds of missiles.Thus, it is wrong to state that one particular component is more valuable than another.The GMD system proposed for Europe is optimized to counter long-range missiles, whereas THAAD and the Aegis systems are designed to counter short- and intermediate-range missiles.Fielding only the THAAD and Aegis systems in the European arena would not fully meet the need to counter long-range missiles and would not provide Europe with the most effective missile defense possible."


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No


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Economics: Would European missile defense be economically beneficial?

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Yes

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No

  • Missile defense would increase arms spending and harm the poor. The construction of more bases threatens to spark new cycles of armament around the world. In developing countries, this results in the deepening of poverty for already desperate populations. In Europe, it could mean the end of state ensurance of social security.


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Health: Are the health effects of a radar system OK, tolerable?

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Yes

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No

The effects of such a high-power radar system on nearby residents are not known. The only similar systems are located in remote and unpopulated areas.


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NATO: How does NATO membership affect this debate?

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Yes




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No

  • NATO members have no responsibility to create European Missile Defense.


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Pro/con resources

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Yes


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No


External links

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