Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Does A Defensive Weapon Become Offensive?

Another ridiculous editorial in the Washington Post today, unsigned and likely to be from the unserious Fred Hiatt once again. The topic this time is the missile defense shield. While coming to the correct position that it should not be deployed now, it gets there in a bad way.

The Post has no idea why Russia would be concerned about us deploying missile defense to Poland and the Czech Republic other than posturing.
Vladimir Putin has skillfully and cynically used the administration's plans to deploy 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a way to stir up trouble in NATO and to justify new steps in Russia's increasingly belligerent foreign policy -- such as moving toward the renunciation of a treaty limiting conventional military forces in Europe. The administration is right to call Mr. Putin's broadsides "ludicrous."

Let me explain this in a way that even Fred Hiatt could grasp. Our government has just done a pre-emptive war in Iraq. We have a recent track record of invading countries without an imminent threat. Pretend we are in a simpler time of the middle ages. Your enemy comes up to you wearing a suit of armor. You accuse him of wanting to attack you. He replies that the armor is just defensive in nature. It blocks incoming blows. How dare you suggest that this is an offensive weapon.

The answer of course is that defensive weaponry is used for a good offense as well. Imagine again for example that we had an out of control administration with no respect for the rule of law, or international opinion. It's tough to imagine such a thing, but go along with me. If this fictitious administration wanted to bomb somebody unilaterally without provocation, and this country had missiles of their own. Wouldn't a great way to get away with it, with lesser blowback damage be to have a shield against their retaliatory missiles?

It's like some people are third graders. Russia has a history of being invaded. It's not likely to happen now, but it develops a strong sense of paranoia. Putting a system in place in eastern europe, the area Russia annexed to buffer itself from invasion, is going to upset Russia. Period. It would upset us.

What if Venezuela set up a bunch of anti aircraft guns in Mexico along the US border. Would we be concerned at all? They could say it was a defensive measure against the US flying down south to topple their government. Any offensive use of this weaponry would obviously just be posturing.

I am not suggesting that a missile shield in the distant future, that actually works, and has strict controls, and treaties in place, that it be used only in defense and not as a shield during attacks, can not be tried. I am suggesting that Fred Hiatt's grasp of reality, geopolitics, and common sense is as lacking as the Bush administration, and this is a good example of why he is still cheerleading their doomed foreign policy.