The decision by President Bush to send 10 Patriot missiles and about 100 U.S. soldiers to Poland is a dangerous escalation of the rapidly worsening relations with Russia since their military actions in Georgia.
For months now, the Bush Administration has been trying to convince Moscow that plans to station a group of seven Interceptor missiles in Poland and an antimissile radar network in the Czech Republic was only meant to defend against some "rogue" state threat like Iran, which currently has neither missiles to reach such a range as parts of Europe near Poland or even nuclear weapons. But now the decision to send just 10 Patriot missiles to Poland is certainly not enough antimissiles to defend against a Russian warhead force of 5518 warheads and more than 1,100 total missile launchers.
But 10 Patriot missiles are just enough missiles to make Moscow very nervous and angry and they could well likely counter with some out-of-proportion offensive nuclear missile border security threat to the mainland U.S. or Europe. This sets in motion a very dangerous trend. And with the Cold War logic of John McCain, you know that he supports all of this or even worse.
The real fact of the matter is that the U.S. really only has just 10 Interceptor antimissiles all located in Alaska to defend against a force of 5518 Russian warheads on mobile launchers, in submarines or on strategic bombers. After the U.S. spent more than $100 billion since the Reagan years on antimissile projects and "Star Wars" technology experiments that largely failed, the 10 functional Interceptor missiles are a pretty sad comment for American military technology experiments that spent great amounts of taxpayer money but yielded very few real results.
Reagan cut social programs and other vital projects for the poor and elderly to help to fund these failed antimissile technology tests. Even schoolchildren were forced to suffer where school lunches could be cut back where a small amount of tomato ketchup was even allowed to be classified as a vegetable. All through his years in Congress and the Senate John McCain largely supported all of this Reagan Cold Warism and billions spent on failed antimissile technology tests.
There is also a serious concern that many of the tests involving the Interceptor missiles were done under highly controlled circumstances that nearly put an Interceptor and an incoming offensive missile on a near string collision path into each other. In a real conflict, stopping real missiles will likely prove far more difficult. And the fact of the matter is that Russian missile technology largely uses a primitive but proven formula of use of kerosene based propellants while even America's NASA program continues to use a troublesome mix of liquid propellants.
The problems with the Space Shuttle program are a pretty frightening glimpse into American missile technology problems. Tiles fall off in the rain, and some of the Shuttles were only kept flying after it was discovered that NASA was purchasing 1970's vintage computer parts off of Ebay to keep the Shuttles operational.
After the 1986 Challenger explosion accident, the bodies of the crew members were actually thrown into the back of a pickup truck for transport back to NASA by a recovery team rather than handled with care and dignity. By many standards, the U.S. missile technology program is almost Third-World in nature despite many successes. The Russian missile technology may be more simple, but it at least works with far less problems. In a real war situation, the Russian technology could prove far more deadly than the American technology.
Even many Russian combat aircraft still use tubes rather than solid state components like their American counterparts. But these tubes are less prone to electronic problems if a nation would use a plutonium umbrella explosion to knock out all electronics and provide a shield for a massive launch attack. The U.S. would be in very serious peril in such an attack if most military computers or even for that matter wrist watches all stopped working and an incoming wave of Russian missiles went unanswered.
Russia also has a number of weapons such as the Sunburn class of nuclear antiship cruise missiles designed to destroy an entire u.S. aircraft carrier, aircraft and crew in one single nuclear blast. And Russia has more recently developed a newer class of hypersonic nuclear cruise missiles that can easily outfly any American antimissile defenses in sheer speed as well. The Russian military may be awful in many areas, but it would be a huge mistake to underestimate their deadly nuclear missile potential in any actual shooting war. A force of 5518 Russian nuclear warheads could quickly reduce much of the U.S. into just burned rubble. And a few Interceptor or Patriot missiles won't change that cold hard fact by very much if at all.
Another reality is that many military experts believe that at least 1600 space based Interceptors would actually be needed be needed to shoot down a decent percentage of solid rocket fuel based missiles. Solid rocket fuel based rockets are much harder to shoot down upon launch than liquid fuel based rockets which may only require around 700 space based interceptor missiles. However at this point the U.S. doesn't even have one operational space based unit of this type. Just to be safe, at least two Interceptor antimissiles need to be aimed at every solid rocket fuel based offensive missile launch.
This only proves how far fetched any American dreams of relying on such a shield for protection really are. And the Patriot missiles generally are only effective against low flying missiles such as those fired from theatre or battlefield nuclear weapons launchers such as Scud missile launchers. But still the possibility that nuclear material will be spread or still explode are highly likely. Nuclear warheads comprise a ball shaped nuclear charge that a conventional explosion of equal force from all directions forces the nuclear material to compress and create an atomic chain reaction that explodes. Unless this part of the missile is fully exploded, this process of compression and chain reaction and explosion will still result. Unfortunately the Patriot missiles were famous for only damaging the casing of many Scud missiles shot down during the Gulf War, allowing many mostly intake Scud missiles to crash into Israel or elsewhere.
The fact of the matter is that after spending great amounts of money on failed antimissile technology tests the U.S. is not in any real good position to invite a new arms race with Russia or encourage new offensive missile threats from Moscow near American or European ally borders. This only invites a war that could be started by a mistake or a miscalculation. During the Reagan years, such a mistake by the old Soviet army nearly lead to Soviet missile launches against the U.S. In fact, a Soviet missile commander actually was kicked out of the Soviet Army because he disobeyed orders and failed to order the launch of missiles against the U.S. when a mistaken group of offensive missile launches from North Dakota silos was wrongly detected by defective Soviet equipment.
Today this disgraced Russian military officer lives retired without a military pension in Russia. But he saved millions of lives in both nations. In an environment of an arms buildup and mutual threats, it is just too dangerous to expect that some hero is always going to step up to prevent mankind from killing themselves.
The fact of the matter is that Russia could very easily station some offensive missiles in Cuba or other areas and American security would greatly suffer. The old Cuban missile crisis was a response by the old Soviet Union to the U.S. putting some offensive nuclear missiles in Turkey close to the Soviet border. If anything it is important to understand that both Russia and the U.S. are very concerned about offensive nuclear threats sitting right on their borders. The Patriot missile decision will very likely renew new border weapons threats to both nations just when serious efforts to renew relations by both Russia and the United States should be the real goal.
If anything the McCain presidency would likely be characterized by a tough but tactless foreign policy that will only continue to fuel a dangerous arms race with Russia that the American economy cannot now afford. On the hand, it is hoped that an Obama foreign policy will be a smarter foreign policy that will work to restore normal relations with Russia and lower tensions to prevent a new arms races or even worse an accidental nuclear conflict that neither the U.S. or Russia could survive. Your life, and your family's live could depend on this. McCain is the exactly the wrong man for the job of president at the wrong time.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!