The American Interestrnby Srdja TrifkovicrnNational Missile-DefensernDeployment PostponedrnOn September I, President Clinton announcedrnthat he would leave to his successorrnthe decision on whether to movernfrom research and development to deploymentrnof the National Missile Defensern(NMD).rnThe announcement to shelve thernNMD was long overdue. The UnitedrnStates came very close to spending billionsrnof dollars—and risking a confrontationrnwith Russia and China, and a breachrnwith its NATO allies—for the sake of anrnunworkable project based on fraudulentrnintelligence assessments and dubiousrntechnolog}’.rnThe proponents of the NMD made extravagantrnclaims about the danger of arnsurprise missile attack from a “rogue”rnstate. Their campaign was supported byrnthe defense industry and many GOP luminariesrnwho have never seen a militaryrnspending bill thev didn’t like, hiihally,rnPresident Clinton was on board, talkingrnof “the unusual and extraordinary threatrnto the national securih” allcgedlv posedrnby the proliferation of nuclear, biological,rnand chemical weapons. Secretary ofrnState Madeleine Albright clainred thatrnsuch proliferation was “the single mostrnpressing threat to our securit).”rnUntil two years ago, the intelligencerncommunity in Washington did not findrnany evidence of this “unusual and extraordinar)’rnthreat.” In 1995, for instance,rnthe annual Nahonal hitelligence Assessmentrnreflected the foreign policy establishment’srnconsensus: “[N]o country,rnother than the major declared nuclearrnpowers, will develop or otherwise acquirerna ballistic missile in the next 1 5 years”rnthat could threaten the United States.rnUnhapp)- with this bland finding and underrnpressure from the militar-industrialrncomplex. Congress set up a commissionrncharged with the task of producing arnmore sensational a.sscssment. The resultrnwas flic 1998 Rumsfeld Report.rnWifli its gloomy appraisal of potentialrnmissile flireats, the report became the rationalernfor flic entire NMD campaign,rnbut it arrived at its alarming conclusionsrnby subterfuge. The commission’s investigaflonrndid not consider the likelihood ofrnmissile threats; rather, its conclusionsrnwere based on a worst-case scenario. Yetrnflie findings were presented to the publicrnas conceptually and methodologicallyrn”neutral.” hitelligence analysts whornwere shocked at the fraudulent nianipulaflonrnof data were told to keep quiet orrnthey would lose their jobs. The officialrnline was that we should anficipate ICBMrnthreats not only from Russia, China, andrnNorth Korea, but from third-rate powersrnsuch as Iran and Iraq.rnIndependent expert opinion could notrnbe muzzled, however. In Senate testimonvrnlast February, the Carnegie Foundation’srnarms-control expert Joseph Cirincionernpointed out that “the number ofrncoiuitries trv’ing or threatening to developrnlong-range ballistic missiles has notrnchanged great!}’ in 15 years, and is actuallyrnsmaller than in the past.” He demonstratedrnhow the NMD advocates hadrnmanipulated threat-assessment mefliodolog’,rndistorfing the result. In addition,rnthe proponents of NMD never presentedrna credible scenario of a “rogue” attack onrnthe United States. They simply assumedrnthat countries which are capable of developingrnadvanced missile technologyrnhave, at the same time, decisionmakingrnstructures that are suicidal, irrational, andrndevoid of strategic fliinking. In fact, mostrn”rogue” states are led by unpleasant butrnperfectly rational people; Neither Saddamrnnor Kim Jong II has shown anv desirernto destro’ himself in a grand gesturernof spiteful vengeance.rnThe real threat to America—especiallyrnto its large cities —conies from terroristrngroups, not states. Intelligence expertsrnthink that an attack would be biologicalrnrather than nuclear, and that the methodrnof deliver)’ is more likely to be a smuggledrnsuitcase than a ballistic missile. CanrnAmerica defend against such a threat? MrnCharley Reese put it even before thernNMD hit the headlines, “terrorism is arnpolitical act, a response to U.S. foreignrnpolicy. It is an act of war waged by peoplerntoo weak to have a conventional army orrnone large enough to take on the UnitedrnStates.” The solution to terrorism is tornend the policies that foster it.rnThe Rumsfeld Report unwittingly supportedrnthis view when it stated that “arnnumber of countries with regional ambitionsrndo not welcome the U.S. role as arnstabilizing power in their regions . . . theyrnwant to place restraints on the U.S. capabilityrnto project power or influence intorntheir regions.” Here is the core problem:rnNMD advocates assume the desirabilityrnof American global hegemony as the basisrnof U.S. foreign policy, while any criticismrnof the NMD and its fraudulent intellectualrnunderpinnings also challengesrnAmerica’s unrestrained projection ofrnpower. The report’s authors impliciflyrnadmit that the United States is threatenedrnbecause of its policy of global hegemony.rnIf American interests are assumed torninclude the abilit}’ to project power ever)rnavhere and at all times, then threats arernalso perceived to be unlimited and permanent.rnGiven current U.S. policiesrnabroad, NMD would indicate to thernworld that the United States has hostilernintentions: the desire to bomb foreignersrnwhile avoiding retaliation. Short of a radicalrnchange in U.S. diplomacy, a viablernantiballistic shield above America wouldrnbe the equivalent of giving a trigger-happyrnsniper a bulletproof vest.rnThe immediate reason for PresidentrnClinton’s decision to postpone NMD deplovmentrnwas technical: The two mostrnrecent tests failed miserably; the dummyrnattack missiles reached their targets. As arnconsequence, NMD is increasingly seenrnas untenable not only on technical, butrnon strategic and political, grounds.rnWhile President Clinton did not addressrnfundamental objections to NMD,rnthe postponement may prove indefinite.rn”We should not move forward until wernhave absolute confidence that the systemrnwill vork,” Clinton said. Such certaint}’rnwill be unattainable for decades: A missilerndefense guaranteed to work againstrnan enemy who can launch large numbersrnof projectiles and deploy sophisticatedrncountermeasures is not even on therndrawing board.rnThat is a good thing, because it may remindrnAmericans that our security doesrnnot rest on an antimissile system, but in arnprudent diplomacy backed by a strongrnmilitary capable of defending this country’srnterritory and its national interests.rn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn