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World Threat Level Inches Up

JBS | June 19, 2007
Dennis Behreandt

According to Yahoo News, the U.S. military is ready to face expanded and more dangerous threats, especially from communist China.

Follow this link to the original source: "US military prepared for 'worst' with China: official"

COMMENTARY:
According to the report, "China's secretive transformation of its military power leaves the United States preparing for the worst eventualities, including over Taiwan, a Pentagon official said." The official, Richard Lawless, undersecretary for Asia-Pacific affairs told the House Armed Services Committee that the U.S. was interested in dialogue with China about its military expansion, but that such dialogue did not appear to be imminent. "I think if we had a true dialogue of depth ... we might be able to constrain and put some of those issues of (Chinese) intent to bed," Lawless said. "Not being able to, we must plan and prepare for the worst."

Lawless' comments echoed concerns highlighted in the 2007 Defense Department annual report to Congress on the "Military Power of the People's Republic of China." "The outside world has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making, and key capabilities supporting China's military modernization," the DoD report noted, while also pointing out that "China's actions in certain areas increasingly appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies."

Meanwhile, in Eurasia, Russia has raised the specter of nuclear war. Reacting to the U.S. proposal to place anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned: "If the U.S. nuclear potential extends across the European territory and threatens Russia, we will be obliged to take countermeasures." More ominously, he continued, "Of course, we'll have to select new targets in Europe."

The official line is that the proposed anti-missile system is intended to counter missile threats from rogue states like Iran, but nearly everyone discounts that explanation. More than likely, the real reason for putting the system in Eastern Europe is, in fact, to counter new Russian ballistic missile capabilities.

As part of his response to the U.S. plan, Putin warned that Russia would deploy a new generation of nuclear missile that could not be stopped by an anti-missile defense system. That missile features a multiple independently targeted reentry vehicle (MIRV) system that sends individual warheads from a single ICBM toward multiple targets. Such systems are very difficult to intercept and Russian military leaders touted the new missile as unstoppable. "These systems can beat any operational and future missile defenses," claimed Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

The new Russian missile is possibly the real reason for the placement of U.S. anti-missile technology in Eastern Europe. To mount a defense against such a MIRVed ICBM system, anti-missile weaponry would need to be situated relatively close to the launch site in order to target the MIRVed ICBM in its boost phase. Can the U.S. system do that? Officially, the answer is "no." But when Russia suggested installation of the system in Turkey or Iraq using a Russian radar facility in Azerbaijan, the U.S. refused. Instead, according to the Defense Department, installation will continue as planned in Eastern Europe.

 

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