Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Germany backs US missile shield

Reuters - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she does not oppose U.S. plans for an anti-missile shield to counter any future attack by Iran, a project that has strained ties between Russia and the West.

"I am not against Mr Putin but also not against the idea," Merkel said at a semi-annual news conference in response to a question about the U.S. shield plan. "I have always said that one cannot say there's no threat coming from Iran."

While her Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has explicitly backed the U.S. plan, Merkel has been cautious when speaking about it and had not previously linked the shield to what the West perceives as the future threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and will only be used to generate electricity, not to produce atom bomb fuel.

Washington wants to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic to protect the United States and its allies against potential missile attacks from what it calls "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

Isn't it amazing how the European elites will sneer at the US, talk down to the US, scold the US and seek political and economic arrangements to "counter" the US - yet the instant they feel threatened they will run to the US for protection, and act as though they are doing us a favor by it?

The article notes that the general public in the nations in which components of the anti-missile system will be based are against it.

This is the same thing that happened during the Reagan administration. We announced our plan to base cruise and Pershing missiles in NATO member states in Europe and the European common folk hit the streets in protest and the European politicians publicly denounced the plan - while privately asking us to hurry up with the deployment. At least now the politicians are openly supporting US actions.

Another similarity between now and the Cold War days is that the Russians had a cow when they found out what we were doing. In those days the reason for the Russian reaction was logical. Their entire war fighting strategy as far as NATO was concerned was built around the idea of a massive Blitzkrieg type assault built around an opening bombardment with theater nuclear weapons and followed up with immense formations of tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Their willingness to use tactical nukes in the opening stages of a war against NATO was predicated on the belief that the US would not retaliate with nuclear weapons fired from US soil to an attack on Europe for fear of drawing a Soviet retaliation against targets in the United States. The presence of US battlefield and theater nuclear weapons in Europe gave NATO the ability to respond to a Soviet nuclear strike on Europe from Europe and the proximity of the Soviet heartland to any European theater of operations made the USSR vulnerable in a way that the United States would not be.

When you add the enhanced radiation weapon (the neutron bomb) to the equation things went rapidly downhill form the Soviet perspective. The neutron bomb would destroy the massed formations of tanks and APC's around which Russian combat doctrine was built (and do it without ruining the countryside and scattering large clouds of deadly fallout). And they would do it without NATO even having to commit its own numerically smaller armored forces to the effort. If the Soviets dispersed its armor it invited defeat in detail by the technologically superior Western military.

Of course Soviet plans did not actually involve an invasion of Western Europe. Their strategic planning was built around the idea of intimidation. Their purpose in menacing Europe with such massive forces was to frighten the Europeans into adopting a posture of appeasement toward the USSR and chipping away at the Atlantic Alliance. It also had the side-effect which was at first probably unanticipated, but later heavily exploited, of scaring the European general public into a kind of national Stockholm Syndrome where they began to identify with the Soviets and turn against the US.

America which had already shown itself willing to spend its blood and treasure to defend Europe twice in the 20th century and was willing to do so again became the bad guy in the European mind. America which was willing to risk calling down nuclear destruction upon its own cities to keep Europe from being absorbed into the Soviet empire came to be seen as the imperialist aggressor. That attitude of seeing the United States as the "real" threat is never far from the European mind.

But what explain the Russian determination to have a cow over this. If the Soviet Union is dead and the new Russian Federation is ready to join the civilized world why are they acting as though Brezhnev has returned from the dead and taken back the reigns of power? Why is Putin afraid for the US and Europe to deploy a purely defensive weapons system close to its borders? Why is he desperate for Europe to leave itself open to a nuclear attack? Why is he willing to begin a new arms race (which Russia can no more win today than the USSR could have won in the 1980's) and restart the Cold War?

Is it injured Slavic pride? Is Putin upset and stung by the fact that once mighty Russia is now separated from the Third World only by its large nuclear arsenal? Does he resent any development in Europe which diminishes the last thing Russia has that keeps it relevant? Or is there something else going on.

We now know why France worked so hard to keep the United States from invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein. They were in bed with Saddam and French government leaders were pocketing millions of dollars in bribe money from the Iraqi regime. The US actions in Iraq not only shut off the money spigot to Europe it exposed the corruption of many European politicians (not that anyone in Europe seemed to care).

Could there be something like this going on with Russia today? What could the Iranians be giving Russia in general, or Putin specifically, that could cause him to risk a confrontation with the US that he could not possibly win?

Iran has two things that Russia might possibly value. One is oil and the other is control of large and dangerous terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Russia has its own oil so the question is why would Putin want influence with terrorist organizations which are centered in the "Shi'ite Crescent" and have as their primary goal the destruction of Israel?

If you think I'm going to tie everything together and explain it all to your satisfaction I'm going to have to disappoint you. I'm frankly puzzled by Russia's behavior, but I believe that their relationship with Iran is the thing to watch. Time will reveal something going on there which will not be to the advantage of the US or its allies.