There are so many things so seriously wrong with the misleadingly-titled American "missile defense shield" that it's difficult to do proper justice to the subject in a short column like this. But I'll touch on a few of the main problems before turning to by far the most dangerous and potentially disastrous threat that so many Canadians and so many people in other countries are fearful about.
First, there's much evidence that current U.S. military plans, directly tied to "missile defense," are rapidly pushing the world toward the brink of an apocalyptic nuclear confrontation. As Mohamed El-Baradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said recently, "Never was the danger as great as it is today. An atomic war draws nearer."
Both the mayor of Hiroshima and UN secretary-General Kofi Annan are among those who have issued similar dire warnings.
second, despite repeated denials from the Martin government in Ottawa, U.S. plans are now leading to the abandonment of important long-standing arms control agreements that have improved global security for over three decades. At the same time, both Russia and China are directly responding to the Bush-Rumsfeld plans in a new arms race that will inevitably spread quickly to India and Pakistan, and to many other countries, as the U.S. proceeds with the development of new nuclear weapons and resumes nuclear testing.
Despite numerous assurances from Ottawa to the contrary, Russian and Chinese threats are ominous. Both countries are now claiming they have no alternative but to respond to the accelerated American arms buildup. Many experts in the U.S. and elsewhere warn that the Bush administration's actions convey a clear message to present and future adversaries: "Spare no effort to acquire and stockpile nuclear weapons."
Third, just as the American-led war on Iraq diverted the U.S. from the real threat to its security-terrorism-the ballistic missile system is diverting tens of billions of dollars away from the menacing probability that terrorists will try to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the U.S.
Missile defense should be far down on the list of U.S. priorities, especially since the system now being promoted doesn't work, cannot work, and will not work no matter how many hundreds of billions of dollars are added to the $150 billion already poured into the pockets of voracious American defense contractors.
According to the widely-respected Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), even a fully constructed national missile defense system would not be effective. "The system the Bush administration plans to deploy," says the UCS, "will have essentially no defense capability even if the technology worked perfectly, because it will be vulnerable to counter-measures that are much easier to build."
Okay, then, if virtually all of the most brilliant scientists in the U. …