Page one of your comments on Europe diary: Missile defence
I wonder what the US reaction will be if Russia was to build bases in Latin America and Cuba with the goal to "Increase their defense capabilites" against rogue states
B.Selvadurai, Klang, Malaysia
No one has been able to explain what is wrong with military cooperation with America, other than a trendy and blind dislike of all things American. The EU continues to be incapable of deciding countless more mundane issues among its member states, the US does not have this problem and direct military cooperation between Czech Republic and US provides far more promise of security than anything emanating out of Brussels. The issue of the radar station has become politicised here to suit the out of office Socialist party, who are quite capable at exploiting ignorance in order to further their own personal ambitions. Faced with the threats of today and the future, I am all for the radar!
Jan Martinu, Prague, Czech Republic
The point is over 60% of Polish citizens want a referendum b4 instaling part this system in Poland but our government doesn't care, Poles are not idiots but this subject has been totaly ruled out of mainstream media recently, we were just said Bush and Kaczynski are gonna sign it on 8 JUNE during Bush's visit to Poland (after G8 summit).
Abigor, Krakow, Poland
The countries 'directly concerned' aren't just Poland and the Czech Republic. We don't seem so keen to acknowledge the far less open role that the UK is playing. The military bases of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill in Yorkshire are both important components of 'The Son of Star Wars.' Relevant decisions have been taken by the UK government in secret with no democratic debate. Perhaps the Polish media would care to consider what the people of northern England think about this?
Philip Chapman, Dent, UK
Why should Russia trust Condoleeza that the proposed NMD in Europe is not going to be used against it? It is not a purely defensive system: knowing you are safe from a retaliatory strike relieves you from any concerns when being the first to launch a nuclear attack. In the past several years, the US has shown total disregard for international law, bombing nations the leaders of which do not follow US policy and threatening others with economic sanctions. Russia was already fooled once when it was given a promise by Bush Senior not to enlarge NATO past East Germany. This time the stakes are too high for Russia to entrust its fate into the hands of American politicians, who fail to show wisdom and restraint in the actions they undertake.
Petr, Moscow, Russia
The anti-missile defense has been nonsense from the start. Reagan's version was supposed to stop Soviet missiles. To be effective, it would have had to work 100%. Even if only 1% of all launched missiles make it to the target, the devastation would have been intolerable. Actually, the system has never even worked 10% in tests rigged in favor of the interceptor. To position portions of the system in Europe to defend against missiles from Iran or North Korea is complete and utter nonsense. Neither country is likely to ever have missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to Europe, much less to the USA. A cynic would suspect that President Bush is doing this to split the EU. Many would agree that this may well be his motive. But perhaps the only purpose is to pass tax money to a few favored industries.
Reinhard Schumann, LTC US Army (Ret), Bonn, Germany
Doesn't it occur to anyone that the argument that the missile defence system will protect us here in Europe is complete NONSENSE? It's all densely populated area around here, so even if a nuclear warhead will not detonate, being shot down and scattered would produce immense radioactive fallout all over Europe, probably even with more serious long-term radioactive effects than a nuclear explosion (where a good part of the fissile material gets transformed into heat). The whole purpose of the missile defense system is so that missiles, fired somewhere east of us, won't reach the U.S., say, if Iran ever happened to fire a nuke against America, the Americans want it to go down over our territory instead, so it won't reach America and contaminate them. In order to actually protect us, we'd have to (theoretically) establish a missile defence system east of Turkey. The whole issue is about our Dear Friends from across the pond trying to use us as a buffer to protect America from violent reactions to their disastrous foreign policy.
Matt Buelow, Wuerzburg, Germany
Much like the replacement to the Trident system, people will always oppose what they see as unneccesary and expensive tools of war. In todays political climate, Britain does not need a nuclear deterrant and the US does not need a "missile shield".
That is not to say, however, that the world will not be in a situation in 15 years time that such things will be needed. The cost of not being prepared for such situations isn't worth thinking about.
Charles, Edinburgh, Scotland
Sooner or later a terrorist group or state WILL get hold of a nuclear weapon. It's only a matter of time and we must be prepared for it.
Basically the experts know that any missile defence system is not designed to counter the 'suitcase bomb' scenario. It cannot do that. It can be effective against so-called rogue states with a limited number of single-warhead missiles. It cannot be effective against the latest generation of Russian MIRV'd ICBMs whose multiple warheads would be able to overcome in numbers any missile defence system. There is also an argument that in the context of the 'NATO-Russia' strategic equation, or the equation involving China, the system is actually counterproductive because it will - and has - spurred the Russians and Chinese to develop new missiles designed to overcome the missile shield and therefore retain their deterrent effect against the US and NATO. Put simply, if the Russians or Chinese developed a similar system which made US, British or French nuclear missiles obsolete, you can be sure we would be developing a new generation of weapons designed to overcome this and preserve the "balance of terror"
Paul Doran, London, UK
If the Bush administration (we should not say 'USA', as previous US Governments, I'm thinking of Clinton, should not be tarred with the same brush) believes more weapons means more safety, they should just look at their record of student shootings and other gun-related homicides, and 'do the math'.
Rory, Lisbon, Portugal
How small a percentage of the cost of this new system would provide full health care for every child in America?
To coin an old phrase the Americans have been late for the last two world wars and now seem to be getting a good head start on the third.
John, Manchester, England
As a european, I think having american missile defense installed in Poland and Check Rep. is a great idea. I thnik it is a direct threat to Russia because Europe countries should never feel safe from Russia. I will support this project. Go USA!!!
Bler, NYC, NY
The US can want missle defense systems on Czech and Polish soil all they want but what is the real anomaly is Czech and Polish leaders who are just tickled with such a seductive relationship with the US. When the USSR was to put missiles on Cuba, the U.S. was more certain than ever to invade. At the time, there really is no threat of Russia engaging Central Europe militarily. When the system goes in, there will be. The Czech and Polish governments should focus on developing a European foriegn policy and not flirting with bilateral aliances in nuclear defense.
Peter, United States
The clear popular vote in the village referendums Mr. Mardell mentions should be a simple solution to this issue. It's obvious that this system isn't the will of any peoples, it isn't in the interest of the American people, the Czech people, the Polish people nor the Russians or whatever nation this system is aimed against. It's all about escalation, defense money is good for governments- not for the people. Business as usual.
Gordon, Austin, Texas, United States
If the Poles or Czechs don't want them there, fine; but get off the new cold war band wagon.
I have no doubts that eventually a system could be developed that has more range and can be sea launched from the Med. or Atlantic if necessary. Either way, this type of system is coming as long as militant supporting nations continue to make bigger and better missiles, mixed together with nuclear technology.
John S., Arizona
This is just funneling huge amounts of money into the big arms corporations for a product that has not by any means been proven to work effectively. I'd prefer they just write their cronies a blank check without buying anything.
Just another defence project to keep the american public content about the $50bn they spend annually on defence. I wonder how many americn politicians are linked to companies which will benefit from the contracts.
Nial, Sydney, Oz
Don't worry, the system will never be built:
- the Czechs and Poles don't want it;
- if it does go ahead Russia will cut off natural gas supply to Czech and Poland (both countries are 100% dependant on Russian gas):
- the next US president will cancel it any way. Not really an issue, just a lot of hot air.
Mark Sixsmith, Prague, Czech Rep.
If it is a system to benefit multiple regions of the world, then it is essential that some form of regional dialogue, rather than bilateral negotions, should be taking place.
Kim Taek, Seoul, Korea
This is ridiculous. If a country decides to start war, what will they attack first? The defensive systems. ie. by having all this american stuff in their countries, the European countries will be the first to be targeted.
And personally, I don`t want the defence of my home to be in american hands. They started this battle against the middle east. I don`t want any part of it. Or any more than we already have. And I see the US as a large enough threat already.
How can the politicians do something against the opinion of the public? Yeah that`s exactly how democracy is meant to work. And it`s not that easy to boot a politician out of office. As you can see with Bush, even if the people now hate him, unless he does something seriously impeachable, they have to wait out the rest of his term before reelecting a proper leader.
Holt, Manchester, UK
A good argument for the deployment of a BMD sytem in europe was russia`s continuing influence in europa at the expence of US intrests. We europeans want to work with our new partner, the US wants a new threat to push their agenda mostly in favour for their defenceindustry.
Is this the beginnings of a new iron curtain? why aren't the defencive missile systems going into Iraq or Turkey or Japan or Afghanistan? Is there some kind of argument going on between Russia and the US that has nothing to do with communism? if capitalism is so good why is the US at loggerheads with Russia now?
carl, Dublin, Ireland
Antiradar movement here in the Czech Republic consists of "Young communists", Humanity league (left-wing utopists), Palestinian students' association, green activists and others. Their involvement, though righteous, has turned the discussion away from arguments into an area of myths. For example - a communist deputy cited a fabricated groundless article published on crypto-fascist server... People got confused - radar was said to cause cancer, to make the country a prime target of a nuclear attack... Even politicians who never served in the army (or did so 40 yrs ago) turned out to be military experts... If there is a fault in government's and US actions, it is that they allowed these myths to spread. No public conference in which military experts (the real ones) would present the project was held.
Miro, Prague, Czech Rep.
Again the US will invest billions in a useless system, and the terrorists will devise an easy way to plant a bomb undetected, allowing black-mail without firm evidence for their supporting State. It seems that they did not learn the lessons from Sept 11 or the Irak IDE...
Jean-Louis, London, UK
I am a Czech. Most of the Czechs do not want the Americans to build up the radar base. We remember well the presence of Russian Army that stayed here almost 33 years. Personally, I think that no islamic militant can fire any weapon of mass destraction on us. A threat we are made believe it, ergo the threat coming from Iran, is not thinkable. Ahmadinejad is a big-mouthed fool but he cannot risk to fight us or the Americans. Only what Chamenei and Ahmadinejad can do is shouting and threatening. Our goverment said few months ago that there will be a mandatory referendum, but today the same goverment denies it. If the referendum was taken, we would deny the build of the base. American defense is based on this sentece: To think of not thinkable. The Americans do not know what Russia will be in 30 or 40 years like, so they need to be prepared.
jara, Broumov, The Czech Republic
Um, am I confused or is everyone missing the point here? The problem is the missiles. Stop trying to defend against them and instead focus on dis-arming the world. This can only happen if the US leads from the front, as the most aggressive and war-mongering country on the planet. How is it that a "civilised" society like ours can continue this childish "my toy is better than your toy" game? Missile defense will not work, there will always be a way around it, just like US airport security.
Kyle, London, UK
Five billion dollars a year would go a long way to providing decent living conditions and education for an awful lot of people, which would surely be a better way of dealing with terrorism?
John Pritt, Ethe, Belgium
The key word here is defence system, DEFENSE. The US is not placing anything in these countries that is capable of killing millions of people, but something that is intended to help prevent the killing of millions of people. Developing countries that have recently broken away from Russia are experiencing great growth and developement and many seek to join the EU. This is something Russia seems to regret and tried to prevent by exploiting their control of resources and energy to these countries. Defensive missles can only help prevent nuclear level damage, if the US, Europe, Russia all have them it is a good thing, cause then if war finally breaks out it hopefully won't be a nuclear one.
T.B., Colorado, USA
Russia has been developing the Bulava for TEN YEARS - far longer than Bush's Star Wars. Of course Russia will update a missile under development to deal with new situations.
And the key problems with missile defense:
- does away with mutual deterrence
- does nothing to stop LIKELY delivery methods (cruise missile, cargo container, truck bomb)
- "non-state actors" are completely incapable of deploying ballistic missiles
- missile defense itself can be destroyed prior to a ballistic missile attack
There are better uses for this money - funding reconstruction in Afghanistan would be more helpful for defense.
How did we get this far? US installing military equipment in Europe that is obvioulsy a part of a strategic offence against Russia.
Where is the EU in all this? Do you think the US would agree if EU installed a similar in Washington State? Or considering the US agression of recent years, wouldn't it be more justified for say Iran to install a similar system in Canada.
Imagine that a "rogue state" does decide to suicidally launch a nuclear or biological weapon at the US and it gets shot down.
The missile would be full of radioactive uranium or plutonium, or deadly viruses...where exactly would this deadly debris land?
Anthony, Kawasaki, Japan
What nobody tells you when talking about this missile defence system is that the system will only disable or redirect the direction off the missile. It will not destroy any nuclear head. So the thing will most likely get off course and explode somewhere else. And where will this somewhere else be? Europe!
Rob, Nijmegen Netherlands
The 4-th we will be protesting Bush's arrival to Prague. This hole story is not just about the political and economical implications that the radar will have, who is it aiming at ect... Is about an arrogant America, that shows no will to negotiate its positions, that shows no regard for others when it comes to the interests that are not even representative of the American people but of few of them. Is about an America that uses sophisticated technology with a medieval mentality. Their politics and attitudes are the main obstacle to real processes of emancipation, and we should be very concerned about this. Greetings and Love, To one and all!
Rubin Beqo, prague
Why can this missile defence system not be installed in Japan and Israel as they are both closer to the rogue states " North korea & Iran . Surely they are better covered then Poland . Since Russia is not the enemy why pont these missile's in there direction. Why have NATO and not consult with EU ??? my question is for who's benefit will this system serve ? The US only
If the first Gulf War should have taught us anything, it is that missile interception doesn't work. The American patriot missiles had a "succes rate" of 0%. 50 % of Saddam's SCUD missiles (antique as they were) got through unchallenged. The remaining 50 were knocked down alright, but with the explosive war head(s) intact, which exploded on impact. There is no reason to assume the new system would have a better succes rate. Indeed, the brainiacs at MIT have already in Reagan's days PROOVED that, mathematically, the system cannot work... Is this what Poland and the Czech Republic want? To be nuked either pre-emptively, to allow the missiles through (in case the system is "believable"), or be nuked accidentally, by the 50% of missiles (with nuke war head(s) intact) shot down? How much does the US pay these countries to be their body guard, & to "take the bullet" for the US?
Really, the lunacy of some of these Eastern European governments...
Roel, Leuven, Belgium
The BIG question is - who is going to stand up to the US and say "NO"!
Brenda Barbour, Kaiserslautern, Germany
This missle defense system is experimental. It should never have been deployed in the US, and was only done so to ensure the programs continued existence, by creating a defense industry constituency. Now that there is an industry building these missles, which have failed the vast majority of simple tests conducted to date, we need a larger market. Hence, our efforts to deploy them in Europe. The idea that we are going to provoke Russia with a non-functional system is ludicrous.
Jerry Sobieraj, Boston, USA
To think that this flawed (useless, more like) system provides security is silly, but it certainly creates strained relations and impetous to the development of more and better nuclear weapons which will lead to a more dangerous world. And like usual, that danger will affect all of the world's citizens not just those willing to put up with these silly imperial toys.
Maximilian Wittmann, Sydney
Here we go again, a new cold war is brewing and again Europe will be caught in the middle.
When will the US realise that all the technology in the world wont stop them feeling safer, in fact the more they have the more likely it is to go wrong and then well all be victims of the famous US friendly fire... great.
Why cant people just learn and look at the mistakes of the past, if someone really wants to attack US they will, rockets in Europe wont make a blind bit of difference.
I feel very sorry for the Poles and Czechs that they are playing the American tune of provoking the Russians. They should all remember that they are slavs as the Russians are, and have more in common with Russia than with USA. Should war accidentally break out between Russia and USA they (Czechs and Poles) are the ones who will bear the brunt of Russian fire.
These two countries should instead concentrate on building their economies and enjoy the benefits of joining the European Union. Note that Russia is blessed with all the natural resources one can dream of. Let these former communist countries get closer to Russia and reap the benefits of being so for prosperity.
Fabian Mesanga, Dodoma, Tanzania
The less American involvement in Europe, the better. We do not need or want Americans here. We have more people, land and money and are capable of similar or even better technology. Let's get better organised!
Nick Pettefar, Swindon, England
If this misile system is in the Czech Republic and Poland to protect Europe as well as the USA then Europe should have a say. Who decides to launch these missiles?
Put it under the control of NATO or keep it in America.
Doesn't everone realise that this can be used as an ofensive weapon. Rather handy if you're an american president and you want to attack any country in the middle east that doesnt agree with your opinion.
I live in Prague and I can assure all readers we dont need this system. It wouldnt stop an invasion of this country and why would a terrorist state want to attack us.
Also the Czech's haven't forgotten that they were sold by America twice. once to Hitler and once to Stalin. Do you blame them for not wanting this system?
Eamonn, Prague, Czech Republic
This issue is one for the whole of Europe to decide, not just two countries, because the interception is not indiscriminate, nor is the resulting pollution, easily spread over third parties here in Europe.
The stationing of the system to operational readiness, here in Menwith Hill and Fylingdales, is against the CFSE agreements in Europe, hence Putins reaction to an escalation of these systems. the reasoning is dubious, it is to save us from Irans nuclear threat But its not only Putin, the large majority of Chechs do not want it either, I doubt that the Poles will be asked. Further, what do the Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch Belgian and French Government think of Britains unilateral deployment of an unsuccessfull, expensive and unpredictable system, never mind the general public, there is no mandate for the neoconazi wishes of a dying US administration.
ingo, Norwich Norfolk
If the US missile defence base was part of the NATO and there was a consensus about its need between NATO states I would be in favour of it. We are part of NATO and we have to share the responsibility. But this is not the case. The base is just a US business. To have the base in our country will make us part of the US foreign policy and their hiccups without a possibility to have influence on it. And after I have seen the US administration laying to whole world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to have a cause to attack it I am worrying about providing support to the cowboys which are at the moment in the power. I also do not understand supporting arguments about our friendship with the US. As a Czech citizen I cannot even board the plane which has a transit on US soil without going through humiliating, expensive and time consuming visa procedure. Do we have such a special friendship with the US to take the risks being involved in their policies?
Martin, Prague, Czech Republic
It is worrying to think that the missile system would only be effective against anything being fired from the East over Europe. It is apparent that Russia would only launch missiles in such a manner if there was a threatening troop deployment on their borders, maybe this is the groundwork being put in place for a future invasion of Russia? It makes sense in a world where energy supplies are key to the future.
John Taylor, Heswall, Merseyside
An imperative issue which I feel needs to be addressed is the extent to which the U.S. will protect its neighbours. If an attack was launched against Canada or Mexico would the system intervene? I personally disagree with this proposal as it would not be as effective as hoped. Would it have prevented 9/11? Will it prevent suicide or conventional bomb attacks? Perhaps more relevant to Cold War paranoia than the current international climate.
Darran O'Brien, Sutton Coldfield
What gives the USA the right to put WMD (as this is what they are) in someone elses back yard. The USA contols enough seas and oceans around its borders, and has enough military might to defend these. Surely the fact that they feel the need to place their arsenal on someone else's doorstep means that they have little or no confidence in their existing defense systems.
I am working in the UAE now, and Halliburton has just announced that they are moving their HQ here. Maybe this is a strategic decision to be nearer to the middle east in preparation for some more 'lucrative contracts', or maybe they feel safer here than in the mighty US of A.....
Andrew, Dubai - UAE
Bush just happens to legally be our President. However, he translates this into his being anointed as "Captain of the World". If he does not change course immediately his legacy will be one of the worst written about in the history books (If he even would get a mention - maybe a footnote but that probably will be all). His legacy will go down as one of the worst diplomats known to man. Our next President must set as their first priority the re-establishment of our leadership role - one based on common sense, not a Texas sized ego. ('nuff said!)
Jerry Clark, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
What a lot of people forget is that a functional missile defence system removes the main reason why a nuclear war has not yet occured: muturally assured destruction. If one side can fire nukes and be certain that any launched in response by the target will be neutralised, then you end up with a dangerous asymmetry of power. This is probably why Russia is so angry about it.
If anything a missile defence system will lead to a more unstable world and increased risk of a nuclear war breaking out.
Samuel Fenwick, Dorking, England
Same boondoggle Reagan tried with his "Star Wars." About the only ones who benefit, so far as I can see, are those who supply the hardware. It would make more sense to directly address the problems ("they hate us for our freedoms" does not explain anything) rather than just the symptoms, but... that would take leadership, intelligence, and a vision of the long-term that Americans just don't have. Good thing the Poles and Czechs are wiser than their leaders.
geoff, bensberg germany
Born again, but war-mongering Bush seems to be clear about his mission to save the world. What he's not clear about is how to get it done ... definitely not by lying or gibberish explanation on why "Russia and our allies" should not worry. Couldnt Bush and his co-saviours of the world look at their map before offering further irritation they call explanatory assuarance?
Olubowale Josiah, Ibadan, Nigeria
I visit an area in the Czech Republic, close to where the proposed system will be based, and there is not a single person I have spoken to who thinks this is a good idea! The US seem to be turning into the very type of state which they vilify elsewhere in the world. Anyone reember the Cuban missile crisis? This is simply a role reversal.
J Dobson, London, UK
Would missile defence have helped on July 7th?
Jonathan, Glasgow, UK
The missiles are nothing to do with russia and russia knows it. You just need to look at a globe to realise any exchange of ICBMs will be going over the poles/pacific. In any case, it is totally ineffective against tens of thousands of russian missiles + the new ones they are building + submarines etc etc. Putin is just using it as an excuse to attack everyone else as usual. Personally I agree that any attack by a rogue state will not come on the end of a missile anyway - there are far easier ways to deliver any weapon.
Jamie Daley, Holmfirth, UK
I think the system is a good idea. We will sleep better at night. Besides what if some rogue Russian commander decides to fire his nukes at the USA? We need this protection. Who cares what Putin thinks.
wwwstatusearthcom, Cleveland Ohio
Poland does not want this OFFENSIVE weapons system in our country.
marcy robak, warsaw
Star Wars is here again... can't you see what we are doing to this world. War should be part o the past of humanity. Slavery. Oppresion of the weak and the poor. Again the american foreign policy fails. Seems they like to collect enemies. Middle east, south america, now Russia. It will finally be the world against them. Everywhere they look they find enemies. Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand.
It isn't really about missiles. It is about taking more US taxpayers' money and handing it to the elites behind the arms manufacturers. A few fat bribes into the bargain at the political level, and the geopolitical charade enters a new phase of damnation. Like arms manufacturers and the elites behind them, politicians are just another layer of corruption.
Bob Roberts, Stockholm, Sweden
These missles are defensive not offensive. THey are "aimed" at the break away former Soviet states that have the former USSR's nukes. Hostile muslim states. That being said, I hope we in the USA can ellect a president with an Isolationist view, the HELL with the rest of the world. We need to build a wall around the USA to keep everyone out. The USA does not need the rest of the world and it's problems. Let Europes inaction be blamed for everything, I'm tired of my great country getting all the blame for all the worlds ills. To hell with you all, good riddance.
A True Patriotic American, Muncy, Pennsylvania - USA
Hi to A True Patriotic American, Muncy, Pennsylvania - USA:
- Sure, you do not need the rest of the world!
To hell with Wallmart, all of the staff made in China, Japanese, Europeans, Koreans cars, Arab oil!
And take out those quater of million military personell from over 2000 USA bases in 140 countrries aroud the world.
Don't you see what the nonsens you are talking obout???
American Patriot , Paul, Massachusetts, Springfield, USA
We want a pearcfull Europe with no missiles pointed at us. Poland and the Czech Republic should be expelled from the EU since their unilateral and undemocratic actions will reflect on the whole EU. We Europeans should remove all foreign Military and install our own. So we woould have no quarrels with the world like the US have. We are making our countries targets for the US. Who knows how much these politicians will cash in to sell europe to the US.
Jason Grech, Malta
This new Cold War has been in the making for some considerable time.
The Pravda website in english is a replay of old propaganda albeit with a nationalistic flavour that is not communist. The Lugovoy statement this morning implicating M.I.5/6 in the Litvinenko murder is both clumsy and overdefensive. The rocket 'test' is a clear signal to America that Putin will up the stakes and go one step further. It all points to a paranoid Kremlin that is once again planning economic and political domination of Europe. The skillful use of the gas and oil weapons should soon achieve that aim.
Ian Ward, alicante. Spain
I do not trust the Bush Administration and the Defense Establishment that exists in America Today. For this main reason I can easily see why most Euopeans and Russians do not trust the intentions behind the Missile Defense System the America wants to deploy. In the end their only intention is to completely control the World, its people, and its energy and natural resources. If you look at America today, we are a third world country with many people working many hours, having no insurance and only thinking about basic survival. We also have a very small group of people who are very wealthy and seem never to be satisfied with their wealth and power. If you are a European be aware of America, your standard of living has become the gold standard. You work to live, Americans work to survive.
Joseph Kennish, United States
Here is a veiw from a Texan. Why are we spending the money on this system (which is clearly aimed at Russia) when our ports and borders are porous as hell. Any attack on us from a rogue state is most likely to come via these routes as missles are fairly complex to launch halfway around the world.
We should also work diplomatically on keeping these so-called "rogue states" from acquiring nuclear technology. I think all of this is a ruse to keep Russia (and China) from interfering in present and future U.S. conflicts. After all, why in the hell would a rogue state attack Poland, or the Czech Republic? I am sure there are closer, more desirable targets (I am looking in your direction Israel).
Jason, Austin, TX, USA
As usual, the Americans think that everybody else is stupid.
A non-functioning system against a non-existing threat which needs to be constructed urgently - sorry, I am just not buying this.
The real US interests are to provoke Russia and divide the EU. Unfortunately, the Governments in Warsaw and Prague are willing to play the useful idiots, against the will of their population, against their EU treaty obligations, and against democratic principles.
I have heard the argument from Poland that only the US can be trusted to defend Polish interests. Reference is often made to 1939 when Poland felt abandoned by the West. True that many French and Brits were not willing to "die for Danzig", but in the end they did while the Americans kept out for another 2 years. It should by now also be clear to the Poles that their engagement in Iraq gave them absolutely nothing. The Americans are even less willing today to include Poland in the visa-waiver program, let alone share the Iraq bounty with them. Useful idiots, indeed.
Ronald Grünebaum, Brussels, Belgium
It is interesting to note from the article that both the Poles and the Czechs are much more honest than the Americans about the fact that the new missiles will be primarily directed against Russia, while the U.S. still rather hypocritically denies that this is the case. You can hardly putin for wanting to defend his country against the proposed U.S. escalation.
akai ringo, Tokyo, Japan
To akai ringo.
So we build a defense system with no offensive capability, and that is aggressive, and Putin fires an offensive missile, and make a few senseless threats, and they are only defending themselves???
Great article Mark Mardell. We need you here in America since it is obvious the Europeans here simply ignore everything you write, and go on a savage, hateful, and rabid anti American rant regardless of the article.
Sean, Tennessee, USA
I'm always surprised how biased the BBC is in favour of America (although, of course, the desire to sell their news services in the USA has entirely prejudiced their impartiality).
If these missiles are "not aimed at Russia" (as Condoleeza Rice claims), then why are they lined-up along Russia's borders? This is a blatant yankee lie. There are places a lot nearer to the Middle East or North Korea where America has firm allies. But the BBC parrots whatever gibberish comes off Capitol Hill with remarkable enthusiasm and spineless obedience.
Neil McGowan, Moscow, Russia
This is one of the most amusing and cogent articles ever by Mr Mardell, at least among those I've read. It hits the nail on the head. Threatening Russia isn't going to accomplish anything; this whole business is typical of the woodenheadedness of people like George W. Bush and his advisors. 'Shoot first & ask questions later' - hey, the American Wild West (rather a myth anyhow) died out in 1880. Hello? Any intelligent life in Washington?
D. Fear, Heidelberg, Germany
Someone told me, US foreign policy is completely under the control of the weapon industry, to an extent that people can hardly believe.
Just how much is this influence? Can the public ever know?
Jean Wang-Mohrmann, Filderstadt, Germany
Ignorance is bliss for many in the US and in the world. Sadly, being ignorant and assuming what the biased, main-stream media feeds consumers in their house is the full truth and unbiased. When did citizens of the world become so pompous as to think they have all the facts? And since when did the US Government ever give out all the facts to begin with? There is due cause for any action President Bush makes regardless of empty opinions, angry out-cries, and blind idiosyncrasies. Heaven forbid the US even try to involve other countries to help establish a safer world for all but growing a defense system that brings more money into local economies, new jobs, and added comfort. If people actually think what they see and read in the media is truly what is going on, they need their heads examined. And to what end does complaining and assuming bring? Nothing... so be thankful the most powerful nation in the world cares enough to help others be safe. Don't forget to also be thankful that you have the freedom you do to spout your ignorance on the internet for without the US, you'd still be under some form of dictatorship rule.
General, Washington D.C., USA
Hey general! If you are truly a "real general" then you'd know that if not for them pesky Europeans, the United States would have never gained independence from England.
But, what the heck do I know, I'm just an old grunt.
But this "system" has never passed a test that was not "rigged." It cannot defend in against multiple missiles, it has not even proved it can shoot down a single missle.
But the US Defense Industry has taken over all "policy" in this nation. Eisenhour warned us about this, he coined the term "Military-Industrial Complex" for it. As the "Duke" Cunnngham scandel proved, it now owns our government.
Just a dumb old Grunt, Dover (where the Iraq dead are shipped) Delaware, USA
Hey europeans! ive been following the news from a more european prospective since i moved to germany 3 years ago. i have one observance for all the europeans here.
what the hell is wrong with you all! canada did NOT get involved in iraq AND declined involvment in this Star Wars 2.0 project the US has been so eager for the past while. canada and the USA are neighbors sharing the largest open border in the world. they are each others biggest trading partners. with a population of only just over 30 million living NEXT DOOR to the US we had the guts to tell them to stuff it, both times. this is coming from the US's NORAD(North American Aerospace Defense Command) ally! ok the US kicks up a fuss for a little but they cant really do anything. so my question for all the europeans here. Why is it so hard for you to say NO? why cant you guys stand up for ONCE, just once at least, with some good old guts and balls courage and tell the US to scram? we did.
i just dont understand why you all sit around and fiddle with your thumbs.
There are frequent complaints that such a system is too expensive, and too likely to fail. I'm not a rocket scientist either, and won't comment. The emotionally appealing counter argument is that, when a missile is accidentally or purposefully launched, do we want our only available response to be retaliatory (offensive)? Or would we prefer to avoid death and destruction all together through preventive measures? This is heightened as missile technology proliferates, to multiple state and possibly non-state actors. The proliferation makes the risk associated a mutually assured destruction approach unacceptable. So another approach needs to be found. If MD could work, it would be another approach. I suppose the concept is that people would be encouraged to stop developing long range missile technology. Put flowers in their gun barrels, etc. etc. Probably too positive.
Incidentally, I have been told that the biggest boon of Star Wars was the spin-off technology that resulted from its research which had real-world applications...so maybe some good will come of this whether the system works or not...
MH, Iowa, USA
Its interesting, if a little concerning, to read some of the comments posted about this article. We have one U.S. patriot slamming us for not adequately appreciating the freedom that America gave us 60 years ago, and a Moscovite citizen accusing the BBC of bias, corruptly representing the interests of the U.S. and their supporters in the decadent West.
It is ironic that these two radically opposed perspectives share an almost identical lack of understanding of the issues at hand and a mutual ignorance of one anothers fears. Sadly, they are not isolated - far too many people all over the world are uneducated, uninformed or both. If we stop beating each other over the head for a minute and try listening, we might actually start to understand one another and who know, perhaps even sympathise.
PS. Its a v.good piece Mr Mardell and its not in any way biased towards the U.S.A. or anyone else for that matter. Our friends from East and West should try READING the article next time.
nick webster, Halifax, England
After reading through every comment, it was abundantly clear that the vast majority of Europeans find the proposal abhorrant. Only americans seemed to be in favor of the project.
It is not the american adminitration that wants this in place, but rather the military industrial complex. Rest assured that this scheme would be going ahead whether there be a repuplican or democrate government in power. As time will tell.
Stuart , Copenhagen,Denmark
I think this is another ruse to take attention off of the domestic problems the Bush administration has been having. So long as Americans are focusing on the ineptitude of our international relations they may not notice the issues with schools, the continued mire of Katrina, corruption, problems with Veterans healthcare, medicare, and the decrease in overall standard of living happening at home.
Bravo to the doctors of distraction.
Jennifer Covert, Philadelphia, United States
Amazing how many people seem to know so much about this defense shield. I hadn't realized that all this information was public. Will somebody please point me in the direction of where anything states that the weapons are aimed at Russia, are offensive not defensive etc. etc. I'm sure that we are using allies closer to the middle east and Asia but remember that this technology is far from fool-proof and it's better to have second chances when the first fail. Also, since when is it mandatory for a democracy to put every government decision to a referendum? If we do that, why do we need the politicians at all? In any case, if the Poles or Czechs aren't happy with their leaders decisions, they have a simple recourse: it's called elections. Don't like it, boot 'em out and let the new ones change things. They should be thanking God that they have that recourse.
Larry, Basel, Switzerland
"Don't forget to also be thankful that you have the freedom you do to spout your ignorance on the internet for without the US, you'd still be under some form of dictatorship rule." I'm sorry, but why do you have the right to say such arrogant statements? The US is not the only super power in the world that has taken down dictatorships. The way you are talking, anyone would think that the UK and other allied nations were not involved in the removal of the dictatorship in Iraq. I agree that a defence system like Star Wars is a good idea (in the most part). However, there are many other ways to take down an attacking nation that do not require missles or over forms of destructive forces.
Lee Walker, Guildford, Surrey, UK
First, I am not a Bush supporter. But I think the responses from some of the Europeans are laughable. How quickly we forget. If Europe was attacked by an "army" tomorrow (which God knows it wouldn't be the first time), who would you look to when things got bad. Where would this talk of we don't want the US's help go? Right out the window. What this really boils down to is that people want a villain, they want somebody to complain about, and we are the popular choice right now, all I'm asking for is a little perspective because while yes we have made some bad choices, recently and in the past, look at the good things this country has done. I don't think people complained as much about WWI and WWII. Or when the Soviet Union fell because Reagan essentially bankrupted them.(Not to mention we are the biggest contributors to the World Bank and the UN) Look, no one person or one country is perfect and in 2008, when a new American President (preferably a Democrat) is selected, tensions will deescalate and America will be cast in the same, mabye less bright, but nonetheless same light as before. We are the good guys. How quickly we forget.
I appologise america, you do have allies in europe, their voices are just drowned out by screaming communists.
There is an interesting thing going on here. Most of the Americans seem to defend the missile defense system (saying that they are afraid that Russia might do something first), while THE REST OF THE WORLD is against it. Oddly enough, there is a similar division going on with some other issues.
I firmly believe that the threat of cold war is over, so the need for such weapons in non-existent. As it was pointed out, these weapons will NEVER prevent things like 9/11 or 7/7
I'm Lithuanian. When Lithuania broke off the Soviet Union (using democratic referendum method) and then Soviet troo^ps were squashing unarmed singing people with tanks, there was no US support in sight. Not a word. In fact, US was last western nation to acknowledge Lithuanian inependance. And this story is true for all other countries that emerged from Soviet occupation. There was no US fighting dictatorship, helping regain freedom and standing besides us.Nevertheless, we managed to get our freedoms and democracy back and we tend to live a rather peacfull civilised and moderately prosperous lives. On second hand US was helping in Afganistan, Iraq and few other places with all the military might. So looking back I should say that it is rather good that we didn't get any help. Freedom and democracy comes from within. And special thanks to GENERAL for cheering me up so.
Aivaras, antwerpen, Belgium
While I agree to an extent with Tres's comments about people just wanting some-one in the world to complain about. I have to point out that the US did not 'bail out' europe during world war II. What they did was turn up quite late for a rather important war.
Paul Hill, Birmingham, England