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July, 2000, Volume 7 Nr. 11, Issue 83,

by Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

First, there was Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and  then there was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).   SDI, commonly called "Star Wars" was proposed by Ronald Reagan in 1983 as a national defensive missile shield to protect the United States from foreign ballistic missile attack.  Today, SDI or some variant of it, we are told, is necessary in order to protect us from "rogue" states such as North Korea or Iran, whom the military experts tell us, will be capable of lobbing at least one ballistic missile at the U.S. by the year 2005.  The public posturing by Pentagon purveyors of profitable payola (forgive the alliteration) suggest that MAD, which supposedly deterred the only other world superpower, the Soviet Union, from launching thousands of nukes at us, out of fear of a full retaliatory response and consequent annihilation, is now, well, insufficient, in preventing a tiny "third-world" nation from attacking us with one missile.  Since the super-power threat no longer exists, why not focus on the little guy?  We are asked to believe that that which protected us from a huge threat is incapable of offering protection from a teeny one.  So the new threat requires more drastic action, that is, a  new anti-ballistic missile system for the continued well-being and safety of the nation soon-to-be threatened from a perceived un-super power.  What odorous miasma! 

As John O'Farrell, writing the July 12, 2000 edition of the Manchester Guardian, in an article entitled, "Missile Impossible" puts it,

"America may have token enemies like Iraq or Libya, but they're no more likely to launch intercontinental missile attacks than Darth Vader himself."

Who in their right mind believes that SDI/Star Wars,  transmogrofied into the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), is anything more than pork barrel supreme for the corporate entities involved in its research, design, manufacture, deployment and maintenance - even if it doesn't work.  These are the same corporate welfare receiving cases that have catapulted the United States into the position of the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of death products.  An exporter not particularly picky about  whom we sell to as long as profits can be made or the buyer can use the products to protect and/or expand those profits.  It's neo-liberalism at its finest, operating under the cloak descriptor of globalization.  We've even found a way to dispose of nuclear waste profitably.  We repackage radiating junk through the creation of armor piercing gems called depleted uranium shells and then look for places to unload them.  This is the military's idea of "recycling", i.e., littering the landscape with radioactive waste as was done   during the Gulf War and again, in Kosovo.  All that creativity invested in war.  Imagine what humanity could accomplish redirecting these resources toward sane objectives, such as, eliminating the causes of war.  But, who am I kidding?  Capitalism knows no morality when it comes to profit.

Star Wars is  nothing more than the creation of long term lucre at the expense of tackling working class people issues and inadequacies such as universal health care, higher education, child care, the causes of drug addiction, alienation, failing schools, AIDS, the incarceration epidemic, mass depression, etc. 

The initial total cost of SDI was originally estimated to have been between $100 billion and $1 trillion.  That last figure is $1,000,000,000,000.  There's twelve zeroes there.  It's the equivalent of winning the million dollar lottery a million times!  Think of it.  This is the equivalent of providing $10,000 worth of healthcare or higher education  to a hundred-million people.  Know of any folks who have to chose between food and prescription drugs?  Know of any folks that can't afford healthcare?  How about the 20 million children in America who go to bed hungry every day?  How about the homeless?  No need to worry, however.  The actual amount spent on SDI was only $30 billion - the equivalent of paying for everyone's college education who wants to go for one year.  Add to that the initial annual budget for BMDO of  another $3.8 billion.  Ah.  Those dollars sure do flow easily for investors with diverse portfolios across the entire spectrum of the weapons manufacturing industry.  But, what do I know?  So, I checked with the internationally respected Center for Defense Information (CDI) in Washington, D.C.   CDI is the "nation's foremost independent military research organization" run by former military officers and personnel.

Christopher Hellman, a senior analyst quoted on the CDI "Fiscal Year 2001 Funding Request for Ballistic Missile Defense" homepage, comes up with the following figures below for "Fiscal Year 2001."  Far from being a protective shield from "rogue states", the national missile defense project is, as Michael Parenti puts it, part of

"Capitalism...a rational system, the well-calculated systematic maximization of power and profits, a process of accumulation anchored in material obsession that has the ultimately irrational consequence of devouring the system itself - and everything else with it."

(Dollars in Millions)

   Research & Development Procurement Total
Total Ballistic Missile Defense 4,180.1 443.9 4,727.0
National Missile Defense (NMD) 1,740.2 ---- 1,286.6
Total Theater Missile Defense (TMD)* 2,437.0 369.4 2,808.3
THAAD 549.9 ---- 549.9
Navy Area 272.2 ---- 272.2
Navy Theater Wide 382.1 ---- 382.1
Patriot PAC-3 81.0 365.5 446.5
MEADS 63.2 ---- 63.2
Airborne Laser 148.6 ---- 148.6
Space Based Laser 63.2 ---- 63.2

NOTES: * Not all the systems being funded under the TMD program are shown. The total shown is for all TMD programs, not just those listed here.

Prepared by Christopher Hellman, Senior Analyst, February 7, 2000.  Source: DoD, Procurement Programs, and Program Acquisition Costs by Weapons System, February, 2000.

These figures make one happy being a stockholder in Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon, Rockwell, Honeywell, Harris, Alden, General Electric, etc., do they not?   Dividends galore through asset maxification.  But, do you sleep well at night?  

Ronald Reagan once called nuclear ballistic missiles  Peacemakers.  His "peace through strength" philosophy was noblesse oblige doublespeak which he himself had come to believe.  Reagan, who as a Democrat in 1954  worked promoting the General Electric corporation, one of the largest military contractors and polluters in the nation.  I personally know of a G.E. worker who suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms and is incapable of working and financially supporting himself and his family.  Simply put, this man was given the shaft by the Corporation.  He is not alone, being a worker, an expendable commodity in the  machine of ever-expanding profitability.  How about taking some of that thrown away ballistic missile defense money and helping this man and others like him overcome his handicap so that he can once again become employed and have a renewed sense of belonging in society. 

Asking for a society that cares enough seems to be asking for too much?  Shame on us.  Shame on the Pentagon.  Shame on the corporations and the venture capitalists.  Shame on the politicians who use their connections to create jobs in the insane weapons procurement industry that destroys bodies, minds and spirits.  Shame on United States for frenzy feeding on the teat of the  greedy  profit-under-any-and-all-conditions sow.

On July 7, the Pentagon and their corporate principle players had a test.  OK.  So, it was a rigged test.   Not the first rigged test.  The third.  You figure you have to start from somewhere.  They fire a Minute Man Missile from California westward over the Pacific which deploys a large balloon-like "hit-me" target while another missile lifts off from the western Pacific atoll of Kwajalein, carrying a "kill" device.   Setting aside a dead telemetry battery aboard the Minuteman II (yes, the improved model number 2) which delayed the test for two hours (yes, you do need to plug the charger in - these things are not solar powered), the kill vehicle, called the high speed interceptor, failed to separate from its booster rocket.  Greenpeace sent the correct message to the White House the Monday after the failed test, "Bill, Quit playing with your missile."  Listen to the almost 50 Nobel laureates, mostly members of the scientific community that are telling you that the plan "...would be both wasteful and dangerous."   

When asked about the test failure, Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Missile Defense Office, said that the problem wasn't "...even on my list" of possible things that could go wrong.  So what's another $100 million dollar failure out of a new $30 billion missile shield project supposedly designed to protect us from an unknown enemy?   Let's try another test again sometime soon.  The stockholders don't mind.  Another try.  Another day.  Another dollar.  More hot air.  Star Wars, miasma!

2000 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD

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