Saturday, September 19, 2009

Polish Missile Joke Revisited

This Polish missile defense system walks into a bar at noon and says, “Give me six shots of Vodka.”

“How can you afford to get drunk in the middle of a business day?” the bartender asks.

“Easy,” the Polish missile defense system replies. “I don’t work.”

There’s a good reason nobody ever accused John McCain of being overly bright. His reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to cancel the Polish missile defense system that doesn’t work was proof positive that McCain, as well as the rest of the right-wing warmongery, is dumber than a quarry.

Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said “The president has disgraced this nation by breaking his word to loyal and courageous allies in the Czech Republic and Poland.” Obama didn’t break his word. The missile defense deal with the Czechs and the Poles came from George W. Bush, and it was a bad idea.

John Boehner, the insentient Republican Representative from Ohio’s eighth district, said “Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe.”

McCain said the decision “calls into question the security and diplomatic commitments the United States has made to Poland and the Czech Republic.” The Obama decision actually gives far more diplomatic and security commitment to the Czechoslovakia and Poland than the half-baked Bush plan.

The scheme originally planned for the Eastern European countries was the mid-course interceptor system, one that genuine experts (as opposed to Franks and McCain) say will never work. Philip Coyle, who used to oversee weapons testing at the Pentagon and is now a specialist with the Center for Defense Information, told a congressional panel that "National missile defense has become a theology in the United States, not a technology. As a result, U.S. missile defenses are being deployed without well-established operational criteria."

Dr. Richard Garwin, a physicist who has been a longtime adviser to the government on nuclear weapons, told Congress that "Should a state be so misguided as to attempt to deliver nuclear weapons by ICBM, they could be guaranteed against intercept in mid-course by the use of appropriate countermeasures."

The system Bush promised to the Poles and Czechs was theoretically designed to protect us, not the Poles and the Czechs, from Iranian ballistic missiles. Our intelligence has recently confirmed that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, and it doesn’t have an intercontinental ballistic missile program either. But if Iran did have nuclear-tipped ICBMs, the mid-course interceptor system wouldn’t have protected anybody from them, so why should Poland and Czechoslovakia want us to dump our junk in their backyards?

The Obama administration has instead offered Poland and Czechoslovakia the SM-3 missile system, which is designed to kill a ballistic missile in its terminal flight phase. This is the missile system that defense contractor Raytheon is developing for sale to Israel. The SM-3 could reasonably be expected to protect much of Europe from missiles launched by Iran. The SM-3 substitute is the smartest move the Obama administration could possibly have made.

That’s assuming that Iran actually has missiles it will put nuclear warheads on and launch at Europe, which is a baldly false assumption. Iran would never launch nukes at a major power or a friend of the U.S. if they had the nukes to launch (which they don’t have and most likely never will have).

Obama has, in fact, made good on the bad promise made to the Czechs and Poles by George W. Bush, even though it’s a promise nobody had to make.

Now, hopefully, Obama will be able to undo the damage the Bushniks did in our relationship with Iran. Dick Cheney’s mob accused Iran of everything from arming Shiite militias in Iraq to seeking nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. They never proved any of these allegations, yet they managed to pollute the information environment so thoroughly that many Americans actually believe that poor Iran, a nation whose defense budget is less than one percent of ours, is the country that presents our greatest “challenge.” We should all have such challenges.

In 2003, shortly after the staged fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue, a two-page fax arrived at the State Department. As the Washington Post reported, “It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table—including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.”

The Bush administration blew the proposal off, then established the “make them an offer they can’t accept” policy by demanding that Iran cease all uranium refinement before talks could take place. The U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty guarantees Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as an “inalienable right.” Iran will not give up the right, nor should they. Developing and independent nuclear energy industry is just the strategic move they need to make to emerge as a regional Middle Eastern power in the post-peak oil age.

The Obama administration has, at long last, dropped the ludicrous pre-condition to direct talks with Iran, and a summit will take place with the Persian country and the six-nation U.N. group of France, Britain, Russia, China, the United States and Germany. Foreign policy chief of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Bagheri says the package involves “settling problems such as terrorism, drug trafficking and environmental concerns." The package also proposes to address nuclear proliferation issues.

It’s a shame that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is such a knot head. I can’t tell if he was trying to look tough to the Muslim world or just had a craving for the taste of his foot, but he timing of his latest holocaust denial was the kind of political stupidity one grew to expect from George W. Bush. Here’s hoping the major powers can cope with Ahmadinejad better than they coped with Bush, and will be able to inject some sanity into the Iran situation come October.

Russia has harshly criticized Ahmadinejad’s holocaust denial and announced that it will scrap plans to deploy Iskander missiles near the Polish border. Since the Iskandersonly is a short to medium range missile that would only have been threat to Poland, Obama’s decision to reverse Bush’s misguided committment actually makes Poland safer. Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin called Obama’s decision a ''victory of reason over ambitions.''

It was indeed a victory of reason. I’m starting to think that Obama may yet get America’s rabid militarism under control and end the madness spawned by the Bush/Cheney administration.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.


  1. Lavrenti Beria8:36 PM

    This announcement is the first concession to sanity in our foreign policy in roughly nine years. It make little difference how the announcement was rationalized, only that it is carried out. We were altogether too close to a latter day Case Barbarrosa, one that would have justified every fear Joseph Stalin ever pressed upon the people of the USSR about Western intentions in the period 1945-1953. A link to his 1946 Pravda interview concerning Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech offers occasion for thought:

  2. One correction-Boehner is indeed insentient, but he isn't a Senator, he's a representative (he represents exurban Butler County in SW Ohio.) Unfortunately, he keeps getting reelected.

  3. The other thing everyone of these critics ignores is that the program was unexecutable from a budget standpoint. And it has been since the last year of the Bush administration. I'm very familar with all that went into this decision and its the right thing to do from a budget and technological risk standpoint. Plus it helps fix Navy force structure requirements-which is a big plus.

  4. Yeesh, I just hope that the same fax that got sent to the Bushtards will get sent to Obama. I doubt it though, I think Ahmadinejad knows that he's not as smart as who he would have to deal with from the Obama administration.

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone. KH, I made the correction, thanks.

  6. Thanks for the info, Skippy. I've been an SM-3 fan ever since Garwin and the physics crowd started endorsing it.

    I'm still a huge believer in the efficacy of U.S. naval forces, and throughout the course of our careers, I believe the Navy has proven its worth time and time again.

    As much as I hate to give black shoes too much credit for anything (kidding, blackshoes), I have to admit their vision in platform and weapons development was exemplary.


  7. " They never proved any of these allegations, yet they managed to pollute the information environment so thoroughly that many Americans actually believe that poor Iran, a nation whose defense budget is less than one percent of ours, is the country that presents our greatest “challenge.” We should all have such challenges."

    Seems to work as a propaganda tool for all the right wing nuts. Witness "the birthers," who put the burden of proof of his citizenship -- not on the people who question it.... but on The President -- to disprove the accusations.

    On The Navy proving its worth, Commander, as long as we have oceans, and shores, on the east and the west coasts, that need defending, and pirates on distant oceans, that need to be stopped,.... who else you gonna call?

    Good commentary. I just hope it's as I think it might be.

  8. I may not approve of everything Obama is doing on the foreign policy front, there is nothing left to win in either Iraq or Afghanistan and every day there makes things a little worse IMHO, but this is a major step in a better direction.

    Republicans rail against government waste but given a prime opportunity to reign in spending on faerie tale technology, they would rather politicize it and ignore reality.

  9. Anonymous3:47 PM

    The reason the Missile Defense Agency exists is the war profiteer.

    Every test has failed because the technology does not work, is entirely unreliable and nothing more than a science project far too primitive to deserve deployed even in Alaska.

    That said, Mc Cain is true to form, pushing for the huge tanker for refueling irrelevant strategic airlift to deliver an infantry brigade to the end of the supply line, where they would be treated like the French at Dien Bien Phu.

    Mc Cain and Boehner are tools of the military industrial complex and read script for the war profiteers.

    This week there is an "National MIssile Defense" (NMD: war profiteers' registered trademark) conference in Boston about getting Europe into NMD.

    Boston is loving this time of year and certainly needs US taxpayer filled rooms and high priced meals.

    Whatever the Europe connection, maybe the US taxpayer send money needlessly to an MICC subdsiiary (Airbus tanker?) on that side of thre Atlantic.

    There are so many other things the US could do with the resources!!

    Mc Cain and Boehner along with neocon schills are playing to massive waste of US treasure for nothing.

    Iran is a talking point as deceitful as the rest in their scripts.


  10. Anonymous9:01 PM

    "too primitive to deserve deployed even in Alaska!" Although you have probably learned this construction through American school teachers and official news reporting, Pen and Sword offers an excellent example of both situational and grammatical excellence (hey, why does the tip of my tongue taste like shit?

    But, seriously, you can't combine an infinitive and a past tense without a linking verb. And you can't fault Alaska for being primitive--our leadership has used its proximity to Russia for all kinds of whacko schemes, from a vice-presidency of the United States (a true Manchurian candidate-you can see it from Russia) to building interceptor missile systems on Kodiak Island (and woe-betide those local papers and people who might consider this use of tax dollars a, um... primitive use of money)

  11. Loggie,

    I seem to recall neocon Frank Gaffney owns a piece of the mid-course missile system.


    I too leave out linking verbs by accident on occasion, so I tend to be forgiving when someone else does it.