Last time, the US got lucky that Soviet Union had a person at its helm who was hell bent on destroying the country and, as a consequence, shut down any serious expertise in the issue of what came to be known as SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative), aka Star Wars. Serious experts in USSR (military and scientists) desperately tried to inform Gorbachev that this SDI thing was mostly bluff and cartoons. They were ignored, Gorbachev needed an excuse, as Yakov Kedmi termed it, for meeting American "partners" in a doggy-style manner. We all know what happened next and, as usual, the United States learned all the wrong lessons from this.
American idea of keeping a homeland completely defended from any kind of attack is understandable, it is also utterly utopian. Yet, acting both on wrong geopolitical (and historic, I may add) assumptions and out of interests of powerful military-industrial complex lobby and totally corrupt political system, US tries to repeat what she perceives her greatest triumph in the Cold War 1.0, facts and real history be damned. So, the United States decided to:
President Donald Trump ripped yet another page from Cold War strategy books Thursday by directing the Pentagon to look into developing a constellation of space-based sensors and interceptors that could stop missiles before they reach the United States. “We will destroy every type of missile attack against any American target, whether before or after launch,” he told a crowd assembled inside the Pentagon auditorium. “When it comes to defending America, we will not take any chances. We will only take action.” The need for new technologies, the President said, was necessary to deal with the growing size and sophistication of missile arsenals belonging to hostile states, such as Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. In addition, he outlined plans to install 20 additional ground-based interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska, a decision that was previously announced.
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While some are afraid of the arms race between the US and Russia (and China), truth is--this race never stopped. American political and intellectual top has become so sterile in terms of its, well, intellect, that the only thing it is capable of is to remain an old dog incapable of learning new tricks. This, plus a desperate desire to bury INF Treaty, which comes down to "intercepting" Iranian (LOL) missiles at Russian borders. But Deja Vu doesn't stop here. As ever confused German diplomacy starts its so familiar from 1980s, in slightly more modern arrangements, tune:
Moscow (AFP) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called on Russia to destroy a controversial missile system Washington says breaches a key arms control treaty. "We believe Russia can save this treaty," Maas said after talks with Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF). "It affects our security interests in a fundamental way."
Maas sings here from the American music sheet and it is totally expected from Germany. As I wrote some time ago, it is all about a generational lag in weapon systems between US and Russia. People in Pentagon are not idiots, at least some of them, they can calculate probabilities, required forces (missiles), math expectations etc. So, they know the score:
1. No system, unless it is based on a dramatically radical new technology, based on some bizarre physical principles (no, not lasers) can intercept any of Russia's newest weapons. This is decades away. Putting something ABM in Alaska against the background of RS-28 Sarmat or Avangard which can attack from any direction (how about through Mexico), is akin to treating 4th stage aggressive cancer with aspirin. But:
2. Pouring money into some systems, which are immensely expensive, will be good for US military-industrial complex which will greatly improve employment statistics and the fountain of desirable fat bonuses and new sinecures for retiring Pentagon people will erupt with a renewed force.
Probably, the first indication that 1980s SDI trick will not work as desired is Russian rather nonchalant reaction to all this. Obviously, Lavrov expressed regret that INF Treaty is all but over (Russians know that START will follow) and all that chit-chat, but Russian military solution is already in place and what is left is to observe in amusement how the United States will continue to bankrupt itself by "investing" into something totally useless. There is another hypothesis here too: those people in the US who, actually, tried to study Russia, they couldn't fail to notice that Russia's recent (since mid-2000s) economic breakthrough was achieved by means of revitalizing Russian military-industrial complex (MIC), which was used as locomotive of hi-tech development. This will not work in US since Russian and American MICs are genetically different and have different effect on respective economies. For starters, incidents of Russian MIC producing enormously expensive dubious systems are dramatically lower than is the case in the US.
As per actual weapons--the reason this whole thing is utopian and wasteful is because Russia (and reportedly China) is far ahead in developing anti-satellite weapons, which will act as interceptors for any space-based weapon systems thus degrading greatly any possible response. Here is 2017 report of the Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coates to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
Some new Russian and Chinese ASAT weapons, including destructive systems, will probably complete development in the next several years. Russian military strategists likely view counterspace weapons as an integral part of broader aerospace defense rearmament and are very likely pursuing a diverse suite of capabilities to affect satellites in all orbital regimes. Russian lawmakers have promoted military pursuit of ASAT missiles to strike low-Earth orbiting satellites, and Russia is testing such a weapon for eventual deployment. A Russian official also acknowledged development of an aircraft launched missile capable of destroying satellites in low-Earth orbit.
We need to be very clear on what is going on, especially after March 1, 2018 public arrival of a new paradigm in warfare--the US was put in a position which she thought she would never be in--a necessity to respond and to catch up. Destruction of Arms Control regime and attempts to replay Cold War 1.0 are such responses. Many observers, me included, noted already in 2014 that the United States was put into zugzwang, when each next move deteriorates position. Why it is so, my next book looks into these issues. In the end, nobody forced the United States to unilaterally abandon ABM Treaty in 2002, she did it completely on own volition and, may I add, wrong assumptions. And that was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.