November 1993 (vol. 10, #1)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1993
Physicians for Civil Defense
Les Aspin, U.S. Secretary of Defense, decided that U.S. troops didn't need armor in Somalia.
U.S. civilians, of course, are also undefended. Reportedly, Les Aspin has bragged about ``taking the stars out of Star Wars.'' The most cost-effective component of strategic defense, a space-based fleet of miniature interceptors called ``Brilliant Eyes'' has been defunded in the FY 1994 budget (George Melloan, Wall St J 8/23/93).
Additionally, in Mr. Aspin's ``bottom-up'' budget review, the Clinton Administration decided to eliminate work on a territorial defense against missile attack (Frank Gaffney, Wall St J 11/2/93).
Most of the remaining strategic defense budget had been set aside for the Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). This is a nonnuclear device that steers itself into the path of a missile and destroys it by force of impact (Jastrow and Kampelman, Wall St J 11/19/93).
The planned deployment of THAAD is being crippled by concerns related to compliance with the 1972 ABM Treaty (Defense News Oct 4-10, 1993).
The capabilities of THAAD are inherently limited in that it cannot handle an attack in which decoys or cluster munitions are used. To cope with these threats, a boost-phase defense is necessary. The defense most likely to be available to meet a Third-World threat is a squadron of B-52s or F-15s carrying heat-seeking antimissiles on continuous patrol. Drones that could remain airborne for weeks are another possibility. But there is strong sentiment in Congress for terminating work on drone defenses (Jastrow and Kampelman).
In Secretary Aspin's assessment, the nuclear threat from the former Soviet Empire has ``receded to the vanishing point.'' He spoke somewhat wistfully of the prior situation, contending that ``while very dangerous [it] had reached a certain comfort level,'' perhaps in comparison to the emerging threats from the rest of the world (Gaffney).
A few facts from which other Americans take little comfort are these: The Russians continue to manufacture nuclear weapons and weapons-related material (plutonium, tritium, and enriched uranium). They continue to develop mobile ICBMs. They continue to conduct exercises involving massive nuclear attacks against the US (Gaffney). And there is still a ``dead hand'' on the trigger of some 27,000 nuclear weapons aimed at us (MacKinnon, Washington Times 10/13/93).
The Russian ``doomsday machine,'' devised in the 1970s, has a ``fail deadly'' mechanism for launching thousands of weapons if the top nuclear commanders are killed or otherwise neutralized (NY Times 10/8/93).
Additionally, Russian road-mobile ICBMs capable of reaching the US have no Permissive Action Link (PAL) locks. They can be launched at will and are subject to terrorist attacks (MacKinnon).
The Russian state is not at peace with itself. The recent blood feud between Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Rutskoi has been called ``the worst civil warfare in Russia since the Bolshevik Revolution'' (MacKinnon). Three recent upheavals in ex-Soviet republics (Tajikistan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), all returned prominent Communists to power. Former Communists now hold power in 11 of 15 former Soviet ``republics.''
``Western diplomats are in no doubt that each of the above coups d'etat was orchestrated by Moscow,'' stated Joseph de Courcy in Intelligence Digest, 17 Rodney Rd, Cheltenham, Glos, GL50 1HX, United Kingdom, 7/9/93).
As a condition for military support for Yeltsin in his recent struggle with the ousted Parliament, a new Russian military doctrine reversed a long-standing policy. Russia is now ready to launch nuclear missiles in a first strike if it or its allies are attacked with conventional weapons. The doctrine also allows the military to intervene in domestic crises to ``protect the constitutional system'' (Ariz Daily Star 11/4/93).
From the Gulf War, Russia learned that the first strike is all important because of the destructive power and precision of new conventional weapons. And ``once a first strike is made it will be decisive as the enemy can never recover'' (de Courcy, Intelligence Digest 9/24/93).
Russia is not the only nuclear power in the post-Cold War world. The Ukraine has refused to renounce its nuclear weapons. Control of these weapons may be one of its few claims to sovereignty.
According to de Courcy (Intelligence Digest 9/10/93), there are a number of important reasons why the Ukraine has been unable to exert any meaningful independence from Moscow, as shown by its recent agreement to sell its half of the Black Sea fleet to Russia. One was the secret September 1990 agreement with Germany, in which Russia allowed the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in return for a German hands-off pledge in the Ukraine. Additional factors include lack of Western support, a weak economy, and ethnic strife.
China's military strength continues to grow. Beijing has taken delivery of 40 SU-27s, the third generation Russian fighter aircraft, and is discussing the sale of two Russian aircraft carriers. Relations with Moscow have moved from ``limited cooperation'' to ``extensive cooperation'' (Intelligence Digest 11/12/93).
On May 29, North Korea tested a new ballistic missile in the direction of Japan. Iran is attempting to attract former Soviet nuclear scientists (Jastrow and Kampelman). Iraq could resume its chemical weapons program and the production of ballistic missiles within months.
``As for nuclear weapons, no one really believes Iraq has ever abandoned its program,'' stated Kenneth Timmerman (Wall St J 11/12/93). The best equipment is believed to be in hiding and the design teams are working at bicycle factories only temporarily.
Despite the increasing threats on the global scene, the US not only continues to forswear defense and the ability to develop and produce defenses, but is also throwing away its sword. According to Gaffney, the policies of both the Bush and the Clinton Administrations amount to a unilateral nuclear freeze: an open-ended cessation of nuclear testing; suspension of weapons production; closing of key industrial facilities; and hemorrhage of skilled personnel. The Rocky Flats plant, for example, appears to be dedicated to the appeasement of enviroactivists, despite the valiant efforts of Citizens Against Nuclear Disinformation in Denver (CANDID) to educate the citizenry.
If you wonder why the ``Peace Calendar's'' phone has been disconnected, it's because they have won.
Unless the Defense Department assures a steady domestic supply of tritium, ``there will be no US viable nuclear weapons in the force structure 10 to 20 years from now'' (Gaffney).