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Feedback from last missile test and debate on best approach to stop Star Wars

18 July 2001

Last weekend President Bush was "pleased" by a successful missile test, but Russia criticized it, saying the test threatened a 1972 arms control agreement. This was the second successful missile intercept out of a total of four tests to date. This test only proves that the U.S. missile defense policy is making the world more dangerous.

Writing an article for an Australian publication, Dr Helen Caldicott, author of the upcoming book The New Nuclear Danger - George Bush's Military Industrial Psychosis and its Tragic Consequences, (to be published by Scribe in Australia and New Press in the US), wrote:

"..Official US policy is still to fight and win a nuclear war, so it maintains extremely accurate, first-strike weapons whose purpose is to destroy enemy missiles in their silos in a surprise attack. NMD weapons would then be launched against the few enemy missiles that may survive an American first-strike. This scheme will thus destabilize the delicate nuclear balance among the superpowers, because Russia and China see it as a move to enhance America's first-strike capability.

The result will be a new arms race as China, India, Pakistan and even Russia attempt to overcome NMD by building even more nuclear weapons. What's more, NMD will also negate the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, the cornerstone of nuclear arms control, and all other subsequent treaties which provide a modicum of stability in a nuclear-armed world.

For the full story by Helen Caldicott:

For a CNN article: Bush ‘pleased' by successful missile test

This Flyby News issue includes various feedback from last weekend's missile test, and actions to stop this potentially deadly direction for most all life on Earth. Some argue that missile defense can work, but it cannot. This direction leads to a dead end where the continued development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will lead us to our doom.

Gordon R. Mitchell, author of "Strategic Deception: Rhetoric, Science and Politics in Missile Defense Advocacy" (Michigan State University Press) recently wrote: "..The Bush administration wants to deploy missile defenses even before they have been proved to work! What is the military logic behind such a peculiar strategy? Rumsfeld explains that when it comes to missile defense systems, "they need not be 100 percent perfect" to have a deterrent effect on future adversaries. Here, leaky shields are thought to work like scarecrows, frightening away enemies hell-bent on destroying the United States. This makes about as much sense as expecting a desperate burglar to be deterred from entering your home by a sign reading: ‘Beware: premises protected by an untested and unreliable anti-theft system'...Scarecrow missile defense could end up being much worse than no defense at all."
For full story see:

So, what can we do to stop Missile Defense? Some suggestions are to keep communicating with your elected representatives. Besides opposing Missile Defense, please support the opposition to the re-authorization of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits nuclear utility liability in the event of a nuclear accident. Other amendments likely to be attempted to be pushed through Congress is an amendment to provide $30 million for a uranium mining project, and efforts to eliminate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's authority to conduct antitrust reviews for reactor licenses. [For more informaiton on these issues see: .] Let your so-called representatives know what you think. The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121 Also, please support world leaders standing up to all the deals proposed by the U.S. to support its initiatives to can the ABM and UN's Outer Space Treaties. You can fax President Vladamir Putin at 011-7-095-206-5173. However, if you plan to do only one thing, please concentrate efforts for world-wide actions against the militarization of space on October 13, 2001. Join with other individuals and peace-activist organizations in your area, and begin now to organize to show the world we cannot accept a U.S. missile defense policy that threatens to escalate the arms race and ignore the peace initiatives by reasons of greed, fear or psychosis. Write letters to editors on this issue, and mobilize as many as you can to make the world a safer place, while directing our valuable resources for environmental and human rights protection. The best defense is actions for peace.

On a side note, coincidental or not, last weekend, too, there were reported strange lights in the sky, deemed as UFOs over New Jersey, which was reported by ABC News yesterday:
Lieutenant Daniel Tarrant of the Cataret Police Department said, "I saw 16 golden-orange colored lights, several in a V-shaped formation. Others were scattered around the V."

1) Feedback from last missile test and debate on best approach to stop Star Wars
a. Bruce Gagnon: Now What: Star Wars Might Just Work
b. Russell Hoffman: Response

a. Bruce Gagnon: Now What: Star Wars Might Just Work


The news that the Pentagon has successfully tested their "missile defense" system is not easy to swallow. It reminds me of the feeling I had when Galileo (1989), Ulysses (1990), and Cassini (1997) all were launched carrying plutonium payloads to loud cheers at NASA.

I think the most important lesson from all of this is that given enough time and money that Star Wars could be made to work. In the end it might not be the lemon some claim it to be after all.

Our opposition to Star Wars can't be based on technological claims. If the rocket scientists have proven anything it is that they can do amazing things sending rockets to the moon, Mars, and having bullets hit bullets in space (even if not 100% of the time.)

The public has been told by some that Star Wars will never work. Now they might not believe us next time we make such a claim.

Better we don't get into a technological pissing contest with the Pentagon. It's not our best card to play.

The lesson for the peace movement is to stick to the moral, ethical high ground. Star Wars might just work and can we really afford weapons in space? Can we afford to hand over the national treasury to the Pentagon?

Do we want the U.S. Space Command to "control and dominate" space and to "deny other countries access to space"? Is "full spectrum dominance" in the heavens going to make the world more secure? What is the relationship between the Space Command's "Vision for 2020" and the plans for corporate globalization? These, I think, are the questions we should be asking.

Many politicians would prefer that we restricted our criticism to the technological questions. That way they can easily answer them by offering more money for research, development, and testing. That makes the aerospace industry happy as well. The politicians would rather not debate the messy points about space "control and domination" because they are basically in favor of U.S. corporate global dominance.

If we focus on the real issues surrounding a new space arms race we won't be affected by flight test results in the future. We need to control the debate on our terms and not get sucked into the technology vortex. Let's keep our eyes on the prize and march on.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 90083
Gainesville, FL 32607
(352) 337-9274

b. Russell Hoffman: (Excerpted response to above letter)

I'm all for vastly more sums of money being poured into education (shall I note that I write educational software and such a policy might help my business, as a form of disclosure?). I'm for national health care, and I'm against Star Wars, and our Pentagon budget could surely be cut to 1/5th of what it is and yet, if it were properly spent, it could protect our troops and our citizens as well as the trillions we now spend is doing.

Those are things I believe.

I seriously doubt that any Pentagon test that appears to make Star Wars seem to work is valid. The Ruskies or whoever our supposed enemy is can just make ever-so-slightly smarter rockets to get around that. Patriot missiles hardly worked against SCUDs during the Gulf War -- despite what the media politely reported for the Pentagon during the heat of battle. And SCUDS aren't the least bit smart, and go much slower than an ICBM might travel.

Also, Star Wars technology would be virtually completely destroyed by a single nuclear EMP first-strike above the atmosphere, and that same blast would render our electronic equipment useless, much of it on fire, with no way to get to the fires because the fire trucks won't run, the pump stations won't have any power to create water pressure for the hoses, and the electricity generating stations will all be fried (this is all over the entire United States, Canada, and Mexico, in the first millionth of a second after the very first attack). Our nukes will probably be melting down as well. It would be chaos and horror everywhere.

And there are other ways to beat Star Wars. Our enemies might even resort to manned or unmanned airplanes which pretend to be drug smugglers, which seem to have little trouble getting through our supposedly impenetrable defense system. Who needs an expensive rocket when a private plane, boat, or even a suitcase will do?

So what, exactly, does Star Wars buy us anyway? Nothing! First of all, IT WON'T WORK. And even if it could miraculously be designed to defeat today's attacker, that's only a momentary gain. To make Star Wars work against a smarter weapon will cost vastly more than the smart weapon that could penetrate the current generation that is being contemplated for Star Wars. Got that? If the aggressor ups the ante just a little bit, it will cost an order of magnitude more to defend against it. Star Wars, if it works at all, will barely work against yesterday's and today's rockets, which have predictable trajectories and speeds, and which are not expected to be sent against us in overwhelming numbers, and which are not expected to be preceded by a nuclear EMP first strike. So all Star Wars could possibly buy us is a flimsy umbrella of protection, full of holes, easily defeated by smarter weapons, and fragile as well and susceptible to a wide variety of attacks against it. Effective laser weaponry is little more than smoke and mirrors (literally).

We can and should fight Star Wars on the grounds that it will not work as planned, would cost billions more to be hardened against nuclear EMP first strikes, will encourage an enemy to use a nuclear EMP first strike which would be devastating to the country, and lastly, the enemy who is capable of launching a rocket attack against us will in a few short years be capable (if they aren't already) of launching MIRVs, dummy rockets, jinking rockets, and maybe even stealth rockets.

We can and should also fight Star Wars on the grounds that much of it uses dangerous radioactive elements for its operation, which should be banned from space (and on earth too). The power for space-based lasers will have to come from somewhere. Do you think it will be solar, with big space-panels supplying the laser beam with the incredible amounts of juice it needs to sustain itself?

An International treaty to ban nuclear material in space would end much of the Star Wars threat, because the power for a lot of space-based Star Wars weaponry has to come from nuclear generators out in space, or even from nuclear explosions, as some Star Wars laser proposals are built around. They explode a nuke, and in the fractions of millionths of a second before the nuke destroys the Star Wars weapon itself, mirrors aim the incredible light which emits from the explosion at the incoming enemy. Yeah, right. This is going to work. This is going to be easy to test. This will make us sleep well at night, knowing military geniuses have made us safe.

This is preposterous, of course. But that's the sort of thing we are spending billions on right now.

The best way to stop Star Wars is by each of us acting as though our efforts alone will make the difference...The proposed Star Wars won't work. It would be an environmental disaster if it is ever built. It would be even more of one if it is ever used. These facts remain our best arguments against it, because all the principles (misguided or otherwise) in the world, all the money that can be had, all the perceived need, won't make something that doesn't work a practical reality. So if it won't work, why pour even one thin dime into it?..


Russell Hoffman
former editor, STOP CASSINI newsletter
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

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