U.S. Missile Defense Threatened by Budget Cuts, Russian Cooperation

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 has several disturbing provisions, in addition to the widely discussed Section 1031 and 1032, which would nominally expand the battlefront in the war on terror to U.S. soil. We must also put a scrutinizing eye to Sections 231-233, regarding missile defense systems, and then place the policy implications in the broader international security context.

As the Heritage Foundation points out, we are already severely downgrading our missile defense systems in Europe, due to impending budget cuts. This goes beyond Obama revamping our missile defense from broader coverage of ICBMs to protection just against limited and midrange nuclear missiles potentially launched by such “rogue states” as Iran and North Korea. It would include the interim termination of funding for exo-atmospheric kill vehicles (EKV), which have been designed to thwart some types of ICBMs.

Meanwhile, we have built a NATO ballistic missile defense system in the Islamist regime of Turkey. Iran recently threatened to bomb such defense capabilities in the event there is a strike on Iran from Israel or jointly with the U.S. Further exacerbating the Middle Eastern picture is Russia’s cooperation with Syria in regards to providing the corrupt Assad regime with anti-aircraft missiles and other military assets. Such hardware could make its way to Iran, which Russia has provided with nuclear energy know-how and fissible material.

Russia is concurrently saber-rattling with the demand that America remove Theater Wide Defense from its region, despite the Obama administration’s supine proposals to “cooperate” with the Russians on certain aspects of missile defense. Heated rhetoric from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would “target” European missile defense, while stoking the fires for a new arms race, have been matched by suggestions to withdraw from Obama’s risible “New Start” agreement, which would cause the “peregruzka” or reset/overcharge era of U.S.-Russian relations to be terminated officially.

It is important to understand the background of national missile defense in order to assess how Obama’s policy changes are either a departure from the status quo or a continuation of it. Below is Section 233 of the NDAA, which provides some context.

SEC. 233. MISSILE DEFENSE COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA.

(a) FINDINGS.—Congress makes the following findings:

(1) For more than a decade, the United States and Russia have discussed a variety of options for cooperation on shared early warning and ballistic missile defense. For example, on May 1, 2001, President George W. Bush spoke of a ‘‘new cooperative relationship’’ with Russia and said it ‘‘should be premised on openness, mutual confidence and real opportunities for cooperation, including the area of missile defense. It should allow us to share information so that each nation can improve its early warning capability, and its capability to defend its people and territory. And perhaps one day, we can even cooperate in a joint defense’’.
(2) Section 1231 of the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (as enacted into law by Public Law 106–398; 1654A–329) authorized the Department of Defense to establish in Russia a ‘‘joint center for the exchange of data from systems to provide early warning of launches of ballistic missiles and for notification of launches of such missiles’’, also known as the Joint Data Exchange Center (JDEC).
(3) On March 31, 2008, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England stated that ‘‘we have offered Russia a wide-ranging proposal to cooperate on missile defense—everything from modeling and simulation, to data sharing, to joint development of a regional missile defense architecture—all designed to defend the United States, Europe, and Russia from the growing threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. An extraordinary series of transparency measures have also been offered to reassure Russia. Despite some Russian reluctance to sign up to these cooperative missile defense activities, we continue to work toward this goal’’.
(4) On July 6, 2009, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a joint statement on missile defense issues, which stated that ‘‘Russia and the United States plan to continue the discussion concerning the establishment of cooperation in responding to the challenge of ballistic missile proliferation. . . We have instructed our experts to work together to analyze the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century and to prepare appropriate recommendations’’.
(5) The February 2010 report of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review established as one of its central policy pillars that increased international missile defense cooperation is in the national security interest of the United States and, with regard to cooperation with Russia, the United States ‘‘is pursuing abroad agenda focused on shared early warning of missile launches, possible technical cooperation, and even operational cooperation’’.
(6) at the November 2010 Lisbon Summit, the  North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to develop a missile defense system to ‘‘protect NATO European populations, territory and forces’’and also to seek cooperation with Russia on missile defense. In its Lisbon Summit Declaration, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reaffirmed its readiness to ‘‘invite Russia to explore jointly the potential for linking current and planned missile defence systems at an appropriate time in mutually beneficial ways’’. The new NATO Strategic Concept adopted at the Lisbon Summit states that ‘‘we will actively seek cooperation on missile defence with Russia’’, that ‘‘NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance’’, and that ‘‘the security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia is intertwined’’.
(7) In a December 18, 2010, letter to the leadership of the Senate, President Obama wrote that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ‘‘invited Russia to cooperate on missile defense, which could lead to adding Russian capabilities to those deployed by NATO to enhance our common security against common threats. The Lisbon Summit thus demonstrated that the Alliance’s missile defenses can be strengthened by improving NATO-Russian relations. This comes even as we have made clear that the system we intend to pursue with Russia will not be a joint system, and it will not in any way limit United States’ or NATO’s missile defense capabilities. Effective cooperation with Russia could enhance the overall efficiency of our combined territorial missile defenses, and at the same time provide Russia with greater security’’.
(8) Section 221(a)(3) of the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (Public Law 111–383; 124 Stat. 4167) states that it is the sense of Congress ‘‘to support the efforts of the United States Government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to pursue cooperation with the Russian Federation on ballistic missile defense relative to Iranian missile threats’’.
(9) In a speech in Russia on March 21, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates cited ‘‘the NATO-Russian decision to cooperate on defense against ballistic missiles. We’ve disagreed before, and Russia still has uncertainties about the European Phased Adaptive Approach, a limited system that poses no challenges to the large Russian nuclear arsenal. However, we’ve mutually committed to resolving these difficulties in order to develop a roadmap toward truly effective anti-ballistic missile collaboration. This collaboration may include exchanging launch information, setting up a joint data fusion center, allowing greater transparency with respect to our missile defense plans and exercises, and conducting a joint analysis to determine areas of future cooperation’’.
(10) In testimony to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate on April 13, 2011, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Bradley H. Roberts stated that the United States has been pursuing a Defense Technology Cooperation Agreement with Russia since 2004, and that such an agreement is necessary ‘‘for the safeguarding of sensitive information in support of cooperation’’ on missile defense, and to ‘‘provide the legal framework for undertaking cooperative efforts.’’ Further, Dr. Roberts stated that the United States would not provide any classified information to Russia without first conducting a National Disclosure Policy review. He also stated that the United States is not considering sharing ‘‘hit-to-kill’’ technology with Russia.
(11) The United States and Russia already engage in substantial cooperation on a number of international security efforts, including nuclear non-proliferation, anti-piracy, counter-narcotics, nuclear security, counter-terrorism, and logistics resupply through Russia of coalition forces in Afghanistan. These areas of cooperation require each side to share and protect sensitive information, which they have both done successfully.
(12) The United States currently has shared early warning agreements and programs of cooperation with eight nations in addition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States has developed procedures and mechanisms for sharing early warning information with partner nations while ensuring the protection of sensitive United States information.
(13) Russia and the United States each have missile launch early warning and detection and tracking sensors that could contribute to and enhance each others’ ability to detect, track, an defend against ballistic missile threats from Iran.
(14) The Obama Administration has provided regular briefings to Congress on its discussions with Russia on possible missile defense cooperation.

(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that—
(1) it is in the national security interest of the United States to pursue efforts at missile defense cooperation with Russia that would enhance the security of the United States, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, and Russia, particularly against missile threats from Iran;
(2) the United States should pursue ballistic missile defense cooperation with Russia on both a bilateral basis and a multilateral basis with its North Atlantic     Treaty     Organization     allies,     particularly through the NATO-Russia Council;
(3) missile defense cooperation with Russia should not ‘‘in any way limit United States’ or NATO’s missile defense capabilities’’, as acknowledged in the December 18, 2010, letter from President Obama to the leadership of the Senate, and should be mutually beneficial and reciprocal in nature; and
(4) the United States should pursue missile defense cooperation with Russia in a manner that ensures that—
(A) United States classified information is appropriately safeguarded and protected from unauthorized disclosure;
(B) prior to sharing classified information with Russia, the United States conducts a National Disclosure Policy review and determines the types and levels of information that may be shared and whether any additional procedures are necessary to protect such information;
(C) prior to entering into missile defense technology cooperation projects, the United States enters into a Defense Technology Cooperation Agreement with Russia that establishes the legal framework for a broad spectrum of potential cooperative defense projects; and
(D) such cooperation does not limit the missile defense capabilities of the United States or its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.
(c) REPORT.—

(1) REPORT     REQUIRED.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the status of efforts to reach agreement with Russia on missile defense cooperation.
(2) ELEMENTS.—The report required under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) A summary of the status of discussions between the United States and Russia, and between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia, on efforts to agree on missile defense cooperation.
(B)     A     description     of     any     agreements reached pursuant to such discussions, and any specific cooperative measures agreed, implemented, or planned.
(C) A discussion of the manner in which such cooperative measures would enhance the security of the United States, and the manner in which such cooperative measures fit within the larger context of United States-Russian cooperation on international security.

The drive to scrap our missile defense systems can be seen within a pattern of American feebleness in response to Russian aggression. George W. Bush did little to effectively or rhetorically oppose Russia’s interventions into Georgian territory, both prior to and during the August 2008 war. Currently, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are doing little to frustrate Russian troublemaking in Syria and Iran.  The wise course of action is to distrust Russia, continue with ABM defense, and justify it as a means to safeguard the Unites States and its allies. Whether or not Russia perceives the program as offensive in nature says much about its leadership’s mentality. Assuredly, the Russians would use such a program in an offensive manner, and therefore, should not be trusted with sensitive information regarding the Theater Wide Defense program.

In the broader international security context, the Obama administration is pursuing a policy of equalization as a means of lowering enemy regimes’ threat perception of the United States. The academic rationale for this point of of view is inherently subversive of U.S. national sovereignty and ability to defend itself against multiple threats. The reason behind this broader conceptual policy stance is that academics and our policy advisors view the United States as an inherently immoral regime, a biproduct of disenchantment with the U.S. beginning at least since the Vietnam Era.

The problem with such a stance of international kowtowing is that it emboldens enemies, particularly ruthless states like Russia, Iran, and China. These states should be distrusted by their very nature; while realism holds that we should treat all nations equally in terms of power, we should not overlook that some regimes are simply mischievous, calculating, and prone to deception. Culture does matter, as has been evidenced by America’s close ties with countries like Britain and Israel.

The American people should also be aware of the theory of “convergence,” a purported strategy of the Russians to corrupt their enemies and subvert them into submitting to their foreign policy designs. This would entail aiding those domestic forces that work to undermine freedom and security within hostile or strategically important nations.

This is not a call to return to a Cold War scenario; but rather to take a more clear-eyed view of what our values are, how to best defend them, and how to rationally and productively imbue them in an objectively hostile world. This is both a national security and foreign policy key; without such an assertion of our values, we stand for nothing, and can be endlessly manipulated by our adversaries.

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