Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The strange love of Gordon Brown

Some but not all of what George Monbiot writes in [Gordon] Brown's contempt for democracy has dragged Britain into a new cold war looks about right. On the face of it, it does look sneaky, at best -- although not surprising -- that Des Browne disclosed that Menwith Hill will be used by the U.S for its missile defence system in a written statement just before Parliament went into recess. And the point about endless pork for American defence contractors has been well argued elsewhere.

But I wonder, among other things, about the claim that "the most likely strategic purpose of the [U.S] missile defence programme is to mop up any Russian or Chinese missiles that had not been destroyed during a pre-emptive U.S. attack". Arguing against this:

* (so far as I know) Russia has the capability to launch large numbers of missiles from submarines, and so has a retaliatory capacity not vulnerable to a pre-emptive attack of this kind. China may be in the same position within the next one or two decades -- the kind of timeframe on which the Pentagon is presumably planning -- if it is not already.

* Look at a globe rather than a flat map, and you'll see that the flight paths for missiles from Iran to most parts of the United States go over central Europe and the northern U.K., where the U.S. wants to locate the counter-measures. Missiles from Russia or China (assuming they were land-based in somewhere such as the Urals or remoter parts of China, which, as previously stated, they need not necessarily be) would more likely head over the 'top', in an arc from about Trondheim in Norway to about Opala in Kamchatka. (Dr Strangelove, we miss you!)

* listen to what they are actually saying: Rice has just repeated that the U.S. sees Iran as the biggest threat US[-Israeli] interests in the Mid-East. [The U.S. junta may be wrong in this -- imagine, as they say, how Americans would feel if the Soviet Union had occupied Canada and Mexico and had two or three battle groups just off Miami, and you may better understand how the Iranian theocracy/police-state sees the U.S presence on its borders at present -- but that does seem to be what they feel.]

* (and here's the 'I drank the Kool-Aid' bit) I think Gordon Brown may actually be serious about some returning powers to the Westminster Parliament, among other things, but is playing a careful game with regard to the U.S.-U.K. military-industrial complex.

1 comment:

Paul Rogers said...


"the most likely strategic purpose..." is pushing it, but a worst case scenario of a new Cold War has some relevance.

US antisubmarine warfare is so far ahead of the Russians that their few ballistic missile submarines would be vulnerable, and the Chinese only have 20 long-range missiles.

The point is that neither will countenance the US as the only power with offensive systems AND some defences, so each will probably develop the ability to swamp US defences - ie. build lots more missiles.

More generally, though, I do agree with your overall thrust and think that the jury is still (just) out on Brown (as I tried to suggest at the end of last week's openDemocracy piece).