Wednesday, February 28, 2007

chalmers johnson

* chalmers johnson was on demnow for the hour.
AMY GOODMAN: Chalmers Johnson, in January, the Chinese launched their first anti-satellite test, and I wanted to segue into that to the militarization of space.

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, precisely, I have a chapter in Nemesis that I’m extremely proud of called “The Ultimate Imperialist Project: Outer Space.” It's about the congressional missile lobby, the fantastic waste of funds on things that we know don't work. But they're not intended to work. They're part of military Keynesianism, of maintaining our economy through military expenditures. They provide jobs in as many different constituencies as the military-industrial complex can place them.
But instead, we've got -- there's no other word for it -- an arrogant, almost Roman, out-of-control Air Force that continues to serve the interests of the military-industrial complex, the space lobby, to build things that they know won't work.
CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, that is, there's three ways to shoot down an alleged incoming missile. This is the whole farce of whether there is a defense against a missile. I guarantee you there is no defense at all against the Topol-M, the Russian missile that goes into orbit extremely rapidly -- it goes into its arch extremely rapidly. It has a maneuvering ability that means that it's undetectable.

We're basically looking at very low-brow weapons that would be coming from a country like North Korea, in which we have three different ways of trying to intercept them. We used to only try to do with one under the Clinton administration. Under the enthusiasm of the current neoconservatives, we have three ways. One, on blastoff, this is extremely difficult to do, but we're trying to create a laser, carried in a Boeing 747, that would hit one. You've got to be virtually on top of the launch site in order to do so. It’s never worked. It probably doesn't work, and it's just expensive.

The much more common one would be to down the hostile missile, while it is in outer space, from having given up its launch vehicle and is now heading at very high speed toward the United States. This is what the interceptors that have been put in the ground at Fort Greely, Alaska, and a couple of them at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, are supposed to do. They have never once yet had a successful intercept. The radar is not there to actually track the allegedly hostile vehicle. As one senior Pentagon scientist said the other day, these are really essentially scarecrows, hoping that they would scare off the North Koreans.

This is a catastrophic misuse of resources against a small and failed communist state, North Korea. There is no easier thing on earth to detect than a hostile missile launch, and the proper approach to preventing that is deterrence. We have thought about it, worked on it, practiced it, studied it now for decades. The North Koreans have an excellent reputation for rationality. They know if they did launch such a vehicle at Japan or at the United States, they would disappear the next day in a retaliatory strike, and they don't do it.

It's why, in the case of Iran, the only logical thing to do is to learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran. It's inevitable for a country now surrounded by nuclear powers -- the United States in the Persian Gulf, the Soviet Union, Israel, Pakistan and India. The Iranians are rationalists and recognize the only way you're ever going to dissuade people from using their nuclear power to intimidate us is a threat of retaliation. So we are developing our minimal deterrent, and we should learn to live with it.

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