On May 21st NATO’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO’s missile defense shield was operational in an interim capacity. I had to figure out what he meant by “interim” and apparently it’s defined as missile interceptors loaded on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean, and a radar system based in Turkey.
This lone U.S. missile interceptor ship won’t be alone for long, as NATO anticipates to have a total of four in the Mediterranean. The strategy of employing a floating missile defense system is smart, because it makes them a harder target for potential enemies, especially if they are camouflaged to appear as a commercial ship. The NATO missile defense system doesn’t stop here, the ultimate stated goal is protection of NATO territories in the Euro/Atlantic location by 2022.
The missile defense system has angered the Bear (aka The Russian Federation), because the system upsets the balance of MAD. MAD for those of you that didn’t grow up in the 80′s stands for Mutually Assured Destruction. This concept is supposedly what kept the nukes sleeping in their silos during the cold war, because it made waging global thermonuclear war a game that can’t be won except for cockroaches or course. The computer program Joshua quickly learns this in the movie War-games when he says “the only winning move is not to play”.
This brings us to Russia’s main concern of an operational NATO missile defense system. Russia has said the system itself makes the prospect of a nuclear war shift from mutual destruction to be perceived as war that could be won. This is because in their view, the system will allow NATO (aka the USA) first strike capability. Which means in layman’s terms, we can take out your missiles when they launch, allowing Russia to be vulnerable, and leaving Europe and the United States with a lot less destruction. In a real exchange, nukes would get through no matter what, but the devastation Russia could receive would cease their existence as a political entity.
NATO has told Russia the missile defense system is being put in place for rogue nations, specifically in their view Iran and North Korea. Now since North Korea and Iran haven’t shown the capability to hit Europe or the USA for that matter with an ICBM, one can easily see how this makes Russia nervous. Combine the news with the fact that NATO is much larger than it was during the cold war (a promise NATO broke to Russia), and that the United States and NATO are right in Russia’s backyard in the former Soviet republics.
It may be better in the long run to discontinue the missile defense system, or assure Russia in some way the missile defense system is not aimed at them. I can’t see how that would be possible in the long run, because Russia will remain suspicious of NATO, just as NATO would be suspicious of Russia if they were working on a similar missile defense system. I believe the only solution is for Russia to immediately counter NATO’s move by building their own missile defense system, or complete nuclear disarmament.
Russia has stated they would consider using a first strike on the interceptor systems to prevent them from weakening their nuclear deterrent. In reality this proposed ABM system will lead to a new arms race. The technology being proposed in the final stage to complete the ABM system is not even in operational existence. More than likely Russia will target the land based interceptor systems once they are in place in Poland and the Czech Republic, and figure out ways to improve their nuclear deterrent to by pass the system.
NATO’s current path will ruin relations, and create a possible flash point for future armed conflict between NATO and Russia.