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Stop Bush’s mad missile plan

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Issue 1743

Son of star wars

Stop Bush’s mad missile plan

GEORGE BUSH celebrated 100 days as US president last week. During those 100 days he tore up the Kyoto agreement on climate control. He provoked a crisis with China by refusing to apologise when one of his spy planes crashed into a Chinese jet. And he is threatening a new Cold War with a plan to massively expand arms expenditure, a plan which Tony Blair has given every indication he will back. Socialist Worker looks at Bush’s crazy and deadly new NMD missile plan which must be stopped.

GEORGE BUSH’s National Missile Defence (NMD) project will mean tens of billions of dollars being wasted on new arms spending. Its aim is to expand US power across the world even further. NMD would give the US military the ability to strike anywhere, and to use nuclear weapons, without fear of retaliation.

That is because the aim of NMD is to use satellites and radar to intercept any nuclear weapons heading for the US. If it can be made to work, it will allow the US to launch a nuclear strike against a state that has nuclear missiles without any fear of a counter-attack. NMD is a continuation of the “Star Wars” initiative that was launched by US president Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. Reagan poured billions into developing a system to knock missiles out of the sky. But the plan was a failure.

Bush’s “Son of Star Wars” is supposed to complete what Reagan began. The US and Russia signed a treaty in 1972 against developing anti-missile systems. Bush wants to tear that up to push his plans through. If he does, it will waste billions of resources in the US. Moreover, it will spark a new arms race across the world as other states try to catch up with the US.

And it will make the chance of a terrifying and deadly nuclear war all the more likely.

Bush needs Blair

BUSH NEEDS Blair for his plan to work. Son of Star Wars depends for success on two military bases in Britain: the radar station on Fylingdales Moor, north Yorkshire, and the largest listening centre in the world, the US-run base at Menwith Hill near Harrogate. Blair hinted to Bush on a visit to the US in February that he would allow these two bases to be part of the system.

And defence secretary Geoff Hoon said earlier this year, “As the United States is our closest ally, we would want to be helpful should it make a specific request on the matter of National Missile Defence.” But this is all the more reason to campaign and protest.

Problems in store

THERE ARE many doubts about whether anything approaching a Son of Star Wars “missile shield” can be built. Missiles failed to intercept their targets in two out of the three tests done on NMD last year. The third result was faked. US experts say even a sophisticated system will not stop sufficiently modified missiles from other countries.

But arms spending has another sick purpose for the rulers of the US. If they increase US arms spending, they know it will force other countries to do the same. And this can work to their advantage. Arms spending in competition with the US helped prompt the collapse of the Russian economy in the 1980s. So warmongers in the US government hope Son of Star Wars will hold back Russia and China today.

NMD is not the only missile system being developed by the US. All of them are designed to achieve what US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls “full spectrum dominance”-military superiority everywhere, including in space. It rides in tandem with the drive by multinationals, often US based, to control all aspects of our lives.

Cost and profit

  • THE US has spent over $60 billion on various Star Wars schemes in the last 15 years.
  • President Bill Clinton increased funding for research on Star Wars by 37 percent.
  • It will cost more than $28 billion to deploy an NMD system at a single site. experts suggest $100 billion will be set aside. No one knows what the total bill will be.

Some of the world’s biggest multinational corporations are lobbying for Son of Star Wars because they know the contracts for it offer a bottomless pit of profit. They include:

  • Lockheed Martin-the biggest arms company in the world. It made over $1 billion profit in 1998.
  • Raytheon-the third biggest arms company. It made $864 million in 1998.
  • TRW-ninth biggest. Profits $477 million.
  • Litton-eleventh biggest. Profits $181 million.

All these companies are based in the US. Arms manufacturers were one of the biggest contributors to George Bush’s election campaign. Raytheon has also sponsored New Labour’s annual conference.

Hypocrisy over China

THE US ruling class is divided over China. US multinationals see China as a huge potential market for their goods. So they want closer ties with China to encourage economic investment and they want China to join the World Trade Organisation.

That would “open up” even more of the Chinese economy as privatisation and deregulation go even further. A recent survey by the Chinese government found that only 26 percent of the country’s industrial stock is competitive on a world scale. US multinationals could penetrate deep into the Chinese economy if trade barriers came down.

But the US ruling class also fears that China could become a competing power on a global scale. So US policy towards China wobbles between economic cooperation and military competition.

There are many “China-bashers” inside Bush’s Republican Party. They claim China poses a massive threat-even though the US economy is 12 times bigger than China’s and the US military spends 20 times as much as China. They also hypocritically point to human rights abuses in China to justify a new Cold War.


Saturday 14 April, 12 noon, Downing Street, London

Called by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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