In Dark Times

The politics and geopolitics of missile "defenses"

by Joseph Gerson

Z magazine, July/August 2001


One doesn't have to be a Naderite to know that even with the Democratic Party having recaptured control of the Senate and the Bush administration in disarray, these remain dark and dangerous times. The Bush-Cheney administration's assaults on the environment, the judiciary, and economic security have been widely reported and analyzed. Less well understood is the integrated fast track campaign to consolidate U.S. military hegemony for the first decades of the 21st century: the race to deploy so-called "missile defenses," to scrap or mangle the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) beyond recognition, to transform China into the new "enemy," and to begin the weaponization of space.

As President Bush's first trip to Europe and meeting with President Putin demonstrated, his Administration remains adamant in its campaign to abrogate or de-fang the ABM Treaty. They are desperate to have the initial, if incredible, "missile defense" deployments in place for the 2004 election campaign. Vice-President Cheney was recently asked if there is a main organizing event or dynamic at work in the world today. He answered that "the arrangement [for] the twenty-first century is most assuredly being shaped right now," that "the United States will continue to be the dominant political, economic and military power in the world."

The principle vehicles involved in shaping Cheney's "arrangement" are the revolution in Military Affairs and related changes in U.S. military doctrine signaled in President Bush's May 1 Star Wars speech and the many leaked reports about the recommendations of a second Marshall Plan. (Andrew W. Marshall is the 79-year-old Pentagon analyst who is conducting Secretary of War Rumsfeld's strategic review.) To the degree that Marshall's plan is actually implemented, the new doctrine will shift the focus of U.S. military planning and war preparations from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region, away from the Army's ground forces toward the Navy, Air Force, and weaponization of space. Instead of ostensibly preparing to fight two near-simultaneous wars in different regions of the planet, the plan asserts that the "U.S. must have the military capability to act at any time, anywhere, in defense of what it sees as its global interests."

The fine print of the Marshall-Rumsfeld plan gives lie to the Bush rhetoric that "missile defenses" are needed to deter attacks by so-called outlaw nations such as Iraq and North Korea. Instead, Marshall is explicit that Washington's primary concern is Chinese military modernization and the belief that in the not too distant future Beijing will have missile forces capable of intimidating and destroying the hundreds of U.S. military bases and the 100,000 forward deployed U.S. troops in East Asia and the Pacific. If they can ever make missile defenses work-and the U.S. is much closer to being able to deploy so-called Theater Missile Defenses (TMD) than Reagan's grand vision National Missile Defenses (NMD)-their primary military mission will be to neutralize China's relatively small nuclear deterrent force (now, an estimated 18-20 ICBMs with the theoretical capability of reaching the United States) and to destroy Chinese satellites needed for missile guidance.

The accelerated Star Wars campaign, which Daschle, Levin, and many other Senate Democrats say they will support with "robust" multi-billion dollar research and development funding, serves many "interests," and its target list extends far beyond China. But, dominance-not defense-is its strategic purpose.

Nuclear War and Missile Defenses

Secretary of Defense (War) Rumsfeld was not being entirely illogical when he urged "missile defenses" "need not be 100 percent perfect" to be deployed. The Bush administration may be clumsy, immoral, and dangerous, but it is clear on its priorities. Their agendas include fattening corporate profits, subsidizing high-tech research, and providing a cover for the weaponization of space. Hearkening back to the Reagan-era vision of successful nuclear warfighting, these right-wing Republicans believe that even if it takes decades, they can eventually make the world safe for U.S. first-strike nuclear and high-tech warfighting.


Since the end of the Cold War, the words "nuclear weapons" and "nuclear war" have become disembodied from their cataclysmic meanings. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were decimated half a century ago, and since the collapse of the Berlin Wall there has been little public debate about the dangers of nuclear weapons and war. For many, nuclear weapons are abstract and dated.

But, nuclear weapons-some 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs-are not abstractions. They are built and deployed to be used, and despite arms control agreements, an estimated 32,000 fission and fusion warheads remain deployed or in the nuclear power's stockpiles. Only one nation-the United States-has ever crossed the moral and legal boundary of launching a nuclear attack against human beings. Yet, on more than 20 occasions since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and at least 5 times since the end of the Cold War, U.S. presidents have prepared and threatened to initiate nuclear war during international crises and wars.

So-called "missile defenses" have been conceived to make it safe to threaten or initiate nuclear war. The plan is to develop and deploy technologies and weapons that can detect and destroy enemy missiles in their boost, flight, and re-entry phases, and to knock out the satellites that missiles rely on for in-flight guidance. In the tradition of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, what were formerly called "National" Missile Defenses (NMD) are being developed to shield all of the United States from missile attacks, while shorter range weapons which were formerly called "Theater" Missile Defenses (TMD) are designed to raise a protective umbrella over smaller "theaters" of conflict, East Asia and Israel for example. Nations targeted by credible missile defenses will, at least theoretically, be unable to rely on their retaliatory and deterrent second-strike arsenals. As a result, their range of options during crises and confrontations with Washington will be limited and stark: accede to Washington's demands or suffer cataclysmic nuclear war.

"Missile defense" architecture includes interceptor missiles, airborne lasers, ballistic missile earlywarning radars, and multi-purpose satellites. These are to be deployed on the ground, at sea, in the air, and in outer space-an approach that is based on politics as well as on anticipated technological requirements. With this strategy, the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and their political and corporate allies, each get a share in Star Wars' spoils and power.

The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld approach to Star Wars may be reckless, but it is also consistent with important strains of U.S. Cold War and Post-Cold War strategic thinking and action. Fifty years after European and Japanese post-war reconstruction, Bill Clinton put it this way: "We have 4 percent of the world's population, and we want to keep 22 percent of the world's wealth. There is also recent precedent for the Bush team's disregard for the ABM Treaty. Shortly after he returned to academia, Clinton's first CIA Director, John Deutch, said the United States "never intended, nor does it now intend, to implement" its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitment to complete nuclear disarmament." That, he explained, 'was just one of those things you have to say to get what you want out of a conference."

The Agendas

George W. Bush is famous for being inarticulate, but it is becoming increasingly clear that his words have little integrity. In his May 1 speech, he again insisted that "missile defenses" are necessary to defend the U. S. against attacks by so-called rogue states and against accidental missile launches. But, for most of the past decade North Korea has been anxious to normalize relations with Washington. It was the Bush administration, not Kim Jong II, who earlier this year derailed the Korean peace process. Moreover, Richard Butler, who oversaw the UN's dismantling of Iraq's nuclear weapons infrastructure, has reconfirmed that dangers of Iraqi missile attacks are "remote." Even Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times' op-ed page, has been clear that Osama Bin Laden, similar forces, and their allies are "rational actors." They don't attack the U.S. and the West with missiles because they know the U.S. response will be devastating. Instead, they resist U.S. hegemony through a form of guerrilla warfare.

Senator Levin was correct when he pointed to the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen as being more typical of U.S. vulnerabilities to attack. These post-modern guerrillas rely on secretive, cheap, and if possible, untraceable methods. As Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, and the American Friends Service Committee pointed out in the early 1960s, if such "rogue" forces had the means to attack a U.S. city with a nuclear weapon, they would likely smuggle it into New York or Los Angeles in a suitcase or aboard a luxury liner. The fear of accidental launches is also largely manufactured. As former CIA Director Stansfield Turner and others explain, this potential danger can be prevented by the cheaper and more effective method of "de-alerting" the world's nuclear arsenals, separating nuclear warheads from the missiles designed to carry them. They don't need to be on hair-trigger alert.

Clearly, Washington's "missile defense' and Star Wars advocates have other agendas, some of which have been alluded to but will not be discussed here in detail: a unilateralist U.S. foreign and military policy; harvesting votes at election time; profits for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other munitions and high tech industries; and creating a vehicle to reinforce the bureaucratic and political fiefdoms of the U.S. military's competing military services.

Targeting China

The Administration's rhetoric is consciously designed to obscure Washington's most immediate "missile defense"/Star Wars targets: China, and to a lesser degree, Russia. This is a bi-partisan preoccupation. Joe Nye, currently Dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, is perhaps the leading imperial and strategic thinker associated with the Democratic Party. As Under Secretary of Defense (War) in the first Clinton administration, he was the principle architect of Clinton-era U. S. Asia-Pacific policy, and the "Armitage Report," which provided the initial blueprints for the Bush administration's Asia policy, is actually the Armitage-Nye Report.

Since returning to Harvard, Nye has repeatedly been clear in his description of the greatest strategic challenge facing the United States. Twice in the 20th century, he tells audiences, the failure of the status quo powers to integrate rising powers-Germany and Japan-into the prevailing global order resulted in catastrophic world wars. Pointing to China, he urges the U.S. not repeat this calamity.

China is a poor nation. Its annual per capita income is $800, and Nye concedes that at its current pace of military modernization, in 20 years Beijing will achieve the military power of a mid-level U.S. NATO ally of 40 years ago. But, having already transformed itself with an annual 8 percent growth rate for the past 20 years, with no end to such growth in sight, and given the Middle Kingdom's place in Asian and world history, China is clearly a rising, if still quite limited and highly vulnerable, force in Asia and in global economic and diplomatic considerations.

Closely related to Nye's analysis is a "missile defense" strategy that his colleague Ezra Vogel has advanced and which has been described by Center for Defense Information analyst Nicholas Berry. In pursuit of "a grand bargain with China," that would integrate China into the Asia-Pacific and global disorders on U.S. terms, the Clinton and Bush administrations have pursued "theater" missile deployments which could theoretically neutralize all of Beijing's missiles. That would leave China completely vulnerable to a U.S. first strike attack. As the U.S. moves closer to these deployments, China is being offered a deal: If it will agree to forego adopting more aggressive military doctrines and agree not to deploy weapons that increase its aggressive capabilities, Washington will call off or limit its missile deployments in East Asia.

Of course, this would leave in place the U.S. nuclear-capable 7th Fleet, hundreds of U.S. forward deployed military bases and installations, 100,000 troops and their advanced weapons surrounding China, and future U.S. weapons in space. China's power and role in Asia would be circumscribed, with the U.S. continuing to dominate China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Since the late l990s, Chinese officials and strategic analysts have been preoccupied with the threat of U.S. East Asian "missile defense" deployments. From the perspective of this nation which built its relatively small nuclear arsenal in response to U.S. and Soviet nuclear threats, "missile defenses" are being designed to serve as a shield to reinforce the United States' first-strike nuclear sword. Chinese officials and scholars are forceful and unanimous that China will not be intimidated. "Missile defenses," they repeat, mean a new arms race. China will build as many missiles as necessary to overwhelm these new systems.

Meanwhile Joe Nye and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman have joined Bush and Rumsfeld in saying that it is not a question of whether the U.S. will deploy missile defenses, but of what their characteristics will be.

Here it needs to be stressed that too many U.S. peace movement leaders who focus exclusively on National Missile Defenses are making a dangerous mistake. What have been, until recently, termed TMD weapons and technologies most immediately threaten China and threaten to spark "the second nuclear age." TMD and NMD are no longer in the Pentagon's lexicon. Rumsfeld has conflated the concepts and he is urging that the next phase of Star Wars research and deployment be based on expanding the limits of what were formerly termed TMD technologies. This strategy is designed to calm U.S. allies in Europe who are being promised that "missile defenses" can also protect them. It also permits the Bush administration to argue that it is building more credible TMD rather than failed NMD technologies.

For these reasons, it was hardly a surprise that Assistant Secretary of State James Kelley was met with "scathing accusations of anti-China "provocations" when he traveled to China in mid-May as part of the Bush administration's diplomatic "charm offensive." Kelly "left Beijing with China's opposition to missile defenses unchanged." As China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson restated, missile defenses will "destroy the global strategic balance...upset international stability" and "strengthen U.S. military alliances in Asia beyond legitimate defence needs."

Technology & Resource Wars

As Princeton physicist Zia Mian critically observes, leading U.S. planners appear to be deliberately "giving supremacy to the cult of U.S. technological supremacy" in order to communicate that "there is no point in even thinking about putting up a fight [with the U.S.] because the U.S. is so technologically far ahead of everyone else." This perspective illuminates at least four additional goals of the accelerated Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld "missile defense"/Star Wars campaign:

(1) to subsidize development of new weapons related technologies, regardless of whether "missile defenses" work or are deployed

(2) to subsidize military related research and development that can lead to new commercial technologies to compete in (or dominate) the world market

(3) to fatten corporate profits

(4) to help ensure continued U.S. privileged access to the world's limited resources

Washington used the wars against Iraq and Serbia to demonstrate its lead in, and the capabilities of, high-tech warfare. In the 1980s Reagan's Star Wars' spending helped U. S. -based corporations win the super computer race.

There's also the mercantile theory of history, which was a part of the ideology that fueled European, and later U.S. and Japanese, conquest and colonialism. This theory holds that the world's material resources are limited, and that the country controlling the largest share of essential resources will be the world's most powerful nation. Reality is somewhat more complicated than this, but it is also true that World War I was largely fought to defend British (and to a lesser extent French) control of Middle East oil reserves against the German challenge. Since the passing of the British Empire "political axiom number one" of U.S. foreign and military policy has been to ensure that neither its enemies nor its allies gain independent access to those Middle Eastern oil reserves. President Kennedy's chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff termed Middle East oil the "jugular vein of Western capitalism." Things have changed over 40 years and those reserves now also serve as the "jugular vein" of East Asian capitalism. It is no mere coincidence that, in the course of at least eight wars and crises that challenged U.S. Middle East hegemony, Washington prepared or threatened to initiate nuclear war. "Missile defenses" are designed to reinforce ultimate U.S. control on the flow of oil that fuels the world's economies.

Russia and the Trilateral Allies

Washington's "missile defense" agendas for Russia, the European Union, and Japan are complex. Putin understands that the current program differs from Reagan's fantasy of an invisible shield protecting the U.S, from thousands of Soviet ICBMs. Moscow has reason to fear Bush's "missile defense" project, but its opposition may in part also emanate from a well considered negotiating strategy.

Russia is not the Soviet Union. Its annual gross domestic product now roughly equals Holland's. Much of its nuclear arsenal and infrastructure is inoperative and Moscow will not long be able to afford the costs of maintaining the 3,500 strategic weapons permitted under the START II Treaty. Even if Putin and company succeed in revitalizing Russia's economy, within a generation (roughly the period of time the U.S. Space Command believes it will take to begin the serious weaponization of space), Moscow's nuclear arsenal is likely to atrophy to the point that it no longer poses a credible second-strike deterrent threat against a "missile defenses"-reinforced U.S. first strike nuclear arsenal. Like China, Russia does not want to be dictated to by U.S. first strike threats.

One particularly interesting element in Bush's May Day speech and his administration's subsequent diplomacy has been the olive branch proffered to Moscow. They are building on the U.S.-Soviet tradition of using "arms-control" negotiations to set the terms for the next arms race and on Clinton-era negotiations with Russia to modify the ABM-Treaty. Bush has hinted at an openness to possible Russian collaboration in "missile defense" research, development, and deployments. If an agreement can be reached, Russia would become Washington's junior partner and its tacit ally against China.

The outlines of such a "grand bargain" have been widely reported. On the military and arms production fronts, in exchange for modifying the ABM Treaty to legitimize "missile defense" deployments, the U.S. and NATO would purchase a range of Russian weapons, including S-300 missiles that could be used as part of a European "missile defense" program. The package would also include military aid to Russia and joint "missile defense" exercises. The deal would likely involve Russian scientists and engineers in U.S.-led "missile defense" research and development, thus permitting the U.S. military industrial complex to skim or integrate Russian scientific and technological resources. Russian demands in negotiations for a tacit alliance are likely to include recognition of greater Russian influence in the former Soviet Republics, a privileged position in dividing the spoils of the Caspian Sea oil fields, and limits to NATO expansion.

In recent years, Russia and China have established a weak "strategic partnership" to counter Washington's increasingly aggressive hegemony. However, because both nations are anxious for U.S., European, and Japanese technologies and investments, their quasi-alliance is tenuous. Indeed, since the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Washington has sought to divide Moscow from Beijing and to play one against the other. In an era when Japanese leaders point to China and wonder aloud to their Russian counterparts who will populate and control eastern Siberia in the coming decades, it is no wonder that Russia's foreign minister has been clear that his government is "ready to be constructive in talks with the United States on missile defense."

In terms of Europe and Japan, it is important to remember that since the last years of the Reagan era, U.S. military doctrines have been clear that Washington's "first objective" is to "prevent the re-emergence of a new rival" or "peer competitor," including the "discouragement" of "friendly nations....from challenging our leadership." This includes Reagan's Discriminate Deterrence; the elder Bush's 1992 initial Pentagon Draft Defense Planning Guidance written under Paul Wolfowitz's (now Assistant Secretary of Defense) direction, and the Clinton Administration's Joint Vision 2020 which defined the Pentagon's mission as worldwide "full spectrum dominance."

This helps explain the staggering (il)logic of U.S. military spending that for most of the past decade has equaled that of the world's nine next biggest military spenders combined.

The rogue state rhetoric reflects the tradition of most U.S. wars being fought in and against Third World nations. But, it is also true that NATO was created to contain Germany as well as Russia, and the U.S.-Japan alliance was imposed to "cap" and co-opt Japanese militarism in addition to "containing" Russia and China. In addition to creating and preserving a "good business climate" and stanching Third World rebellions, U.S. strategic planners have learned from their studies of the British and other empires. They want to be in a position to contain, and if necessary defeat, inevitable challenges by emerging powers to its hegemonic global dominance.

The European Union is an economic and potential military superpower. Recently there have been tensions between the U.S. and the European Union over trade, human rights, influence in Asia, and the proposed creation of an independent European Rapid Deployment Force. These developments point to the possibility that U.S. and EU elite interests and ambitions may in time diverge substantially. The U.S. and Europe could theoretically-but will not necessarily-become military as well as economic "peer competitors." Similarly, although Japan is now wracked by economic, political, and social turmoil, Japanese power is such that U. S. officials have boasted that one way they discipline China is by occasionally threatening to spin Japan off as an independent power. This Asian nightmare has been given new life by the nationalist and militarist commitments of Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Tanaka's vision of Japan becoming a major power independent of the United States. Japan is still the world's second richest nation and its economic power continues to far exceed China's. Despite its peace constitution, Japan is the world's third greatest military spender and a near-nuclear power.

The "missile defense"/Star Wars programs are, in part, designed to remind the EU and Japan who is really in charge. In the tradition of Joint Vision 2020, many in Washington believe that "missile defenses" can serve as a hedge against "uncertainty." At the same time, as with Russia, Washington wants to further integrate European and Japanese science and technology into U.S. dominated systems.

Finally, Star Wars research and development will be expensive. Financial burden-sharing by Europe and Japan could ease the pain and possibly increase U.S. taxpayers' and voters' patience and support. Ambiguous policy statements now emanating from Berlin, London, and Paris seem to reflect that European corporations, scientific and military establishments, and politicians want their multi-billion dollar share of the Star Wars' pie. Meanwhile, the widely reported strife between Foreign Minister Tanaka and the Ministry's bureaucracy is partly due to profound differences over whether Japan should support the Bush administration's "missile defense" program.

Weaponization Of Space

On May 8 Secretary Rumsfeld gave the world something else to worry about. As senior Bush administration officials traveled to Europe and Asia to calm global fears of the "missile defense" program, Rumsfeld held a press conference to announce the reorganization of the Pentagon's space programs. The heart of his announcement was that "the Air Force will be assigned responsibility to organize, train, and equip for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations." Three days later, Lt. General Robert Foglesong, deputy chief of staff of air and space operations, confirmed that the Air Force was prepared "to take our guns into space" when given the order to do so.

Rumsfeld's press conference was surprising only in its timing-in the midst of the Administration's high-powered "charm offensive." In January, as chair of the Congressional Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, Rumsfeld had publicly announced the Commission's recommendations which emphasized that it is time to move to weaponize space. The U. S ., the Commission insisted, must "have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats and, if necessary, defend against attacks on U.S. interests. "

Secretary Rumsfeld's press conference was the first step in institutionalizing his Commission's Report. The report was a rehash of already published Space Command reports. Vision for 2020, for example, is illustrated with pictures of space-based lasers eliminating earth-bound targets and it describes the Space Command's role as "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investments." Think in terms of Middle East oil and U. S. automotive factories in China. Like the anti-globalization movement, Vision for 2020 points to the widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots. But, instead of seeking to rectify the situation, it proposes preserving these disparities, through the "control [ofl space" to "dominate" the earth.

China and Russia have more immediate concerns. They fear U.S. "missile defense" systems may soon be able to destroy their satellites, wiping out essential command, control, communication, and intelligence functions for their missile and conventional forces, leaving them completely vulnerable to U.S. first strike attacks. With China in the lead, and with powerful support from Canada and other U.S. allies, the world's nations have repeatedly and overwhelmingly adopted resolutions opposing the weaponization of space. The most recent General Assembly vote was 163 states voting for the resolution and three abstaining: the U.S., Israel, and Micronesia.


In the first depressing and arrogant months of the Bush-Cheney presidency, ambiguous glimmers of hope have come from unexpected sources: Beijing's refusal to kowtow to Washington's demands, European and Third World nations unexpectedly joining to oust the U.S. from two UN commissions, and Senator Jefford's short walk across the Senate aisle. Despite the Bush administration's charm offensive, few nations are openly backing "missile defense" deployments. Fearing the destabilizing and dangerous consequences of scrapping or mangling the ABM Treaty, close U.S. allies including Japan, Canada, and most NATO nations continue to express serious reservations. The Danes, bless them, who are the " sovereign " colonizers of Greenland where the U. S. hopes to build "missile defense"-related radars, have said that such construction will not be permitted until Washington and Beijing are working from the same script. But, people and the power of our movements are the most reliable sources of light and hope.

As the protest demonstrations and civil disobedience that greeted President Bush and his entourage in Europe highlighted, European, Japanese, and Korean opposition to "missile defenses" and Star Wars is growing. Here in the United States, the hundreds of speeches given and the many resources developed by Bruce Gagnon, Karl Grossman, Michio Kaku, Lisbeth Gronlund, and others have laid the foundation for a potentially powerful movement. In the most visible manifestation of popular U.S. opposition to "missile defenses" and Star Wars thus far, hundreds of activists from 40 states journeyed to Washington in mid-June for a demonstration and lobbying organized by Project Abolition. At the very least, Congress was put on notice that an incipient movement intends to transform the debate and the political terrain. The Washington demonstration is being followed with a variety of community-based education and mobilization efforts across the country this summer and by worldwide forums and protests scheduled for October 12 and 13 which have been initiated by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Conceiving the strategy needed to drive a stake through the heart of the "missile defense"/Star Wars vampire has been described as the "24 million dollar question" still to be answered. Yet, a number of its essential elements are quite clear. First and foremost, traditional peace and justice organizations must devote more of their energies and resources to "missile defense"/Star Wars education and to grassroots organizing and mobilization.

There is important linguistic and image work to be done. As the demonstrators who gathered in Washington, DC learned, the focus on "National Missile Defenses" needs to be replaced with the conflated "missile defense" language if the most immediate dangers of deployment and a new arms race are to be prevented. On the public image front, the language of "missile defenses" places the movement and its potential allies in the awkward position of opposing the "defense" of the U.S. people and of defending the madness of mutual assured destruction. New language needs to be found to identify the movement and to reframe the debate. One approach being used is the broader language of Campaign Against Star Wars.

If a broad and powerful movement is to be built, the peace movement must also face and overcome self-imposed race and class obstacles in order to build common cause and alliances with social and economic justice activists, leading figures, and organizations. U. S. disarmament activists tend to be overwhelmingly white, middle-aged or older, and have been reluctant to confront the roles and consequences of racism in U.S. society and in U.S. foreign and military policy; the growing "guns or butter" trade off; workers' need for jobs and the military's role in enforcing corporatized economic globalization; or the "deadly connections" between U.S. preparations for nuclear war and more "conventional" U.S. military interventions. At least as challenging, will be developing credible alternatives and related resources to engage with machinists and others in organized labor who are anxious for new military contracts and the short-term economic security they bring.

The task of broadening the movement has been made substantially easier with the Bush administration's $1.35 trillion tax cut coup and by its frightening confrontations and vilification of China.

It didn't take Republican strategist Grover Norquist's boasting for Congressional Democrats to figure out that the tax cut will severely limit their ability to fund health, environmental, education, social security, and other human needs programs for many years to come. With a smaller government pie for guns and butter, Star Wars or housing, "missile defenses" or health care (or the environment, or...) the choices have become more immediate, stark, compelling, and individually "felt." The words Fund Human Needs must be added, on an equal basis, with the movement's call for no offensive "missile defense" or Star Wars deployments.

The movement will also need to be prepared to respond to the confusion (including within its own ranks) that will be inevitable when Bush moves to cut the size of the United States deployed nuclear arsenal unilaterally or otherwise. These reductions will be made to reduce the costs and possibilities of accidental nuclear war, but they will not undermine the Bush administration's need to make the world safe for U.S. first-strike nuclear warfighting. To the argument made by traditional allies such as Representative Tom Andrews that the U.S. must deploy "missile defenses" to protect forward deployed forces in Korea, Japan, Australia, and other nations, the response should be "Bring the troops home." To the appeal that the U.S. must protect its allies in Europe, Israel, and other nations, the answer is that Europeans don't want them, and Israel must end the occupation. To warnings that increasingly integrated civilian and military communications technologies must be protected, the movement should be answering "This integration is not inevitable. It is dangerous on many levels. Demilitarize our society."

Finally, it is not difficult to envision a world free of nuclear weapons, "missile defenses," and the weaponization of space. Such a world and the means of achieving it have been described in many United Nations' resolutions; in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Anti-Ballistic Missile and Outer Space treaties; in the Canberra Commission's Report and the draft convention for nuclear weapons abolition; and in the passionate appeals of the world's nuclear weapons victims, peace movements, countless scientists, retired generals and admirals (including former commander of NATO and the U.S. Strategic Command), and even the Vermont state legislature. In the end, what will be most needed, is vision, imagination, and perhaps most of all commitment and will.


Joseph Gerson is Director of Programs of the American Friends Service Committee's New England Regional Office. This article is based on his talk at the NGO 2001 Forum in Goteborg, Sweden as part of the popular education and organizing work.

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