Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives
E-Mail Message 130828
About that Reset . . .
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
August 28, 2013
In 1785, Robert Burns wrote To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, which contained these famous words: “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy!” Those words aptly describe the misplaced confidence in the Obama administration’s touted “reset” strategies on a number of fronts—and lay challenges for new “resets” to replace them.
There has been a major “reset” in U.S. foreign policy, though not entirely what then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meant when she introduced that term in her March 2009 trip to Geneva. Presumably, she sought to assure the Russians that their difficulties in dealing with the George W. Bush administration would be followed by the then recent Nobel Peace Prize winner’s “smart diplomacy,” while making concessions that reneged on U.S. commitments to deploy missile defenses in eastern Europe—and beginning negotiations that would lead to a New Start treaty not in the U.S. interests.
Prophetically, the “reset” label on the “button” she gave to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was misspelled in Russian—it meant “overcharge.” Click here for a press report including a video of the event, during which Secretary Clinton promised not to let the Russians overcharge us—which they actually did in the 2010 New Start Treaty. Sorry about that!
By the end of 2012, Secretary Clinton apparently realized the error of her early ways as she was ending her tour in the Obama administration. She told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” and at least implied that the U.S. was trying to block that regressive move by Russia and rethinking its “reset” policy. Better late than never, I suppose, especially when thinking about an entry into 2016 Presidential politics. Oh, well . . .
So, the reset humor is gone—and not only with respect to Russia. In his June 4, 2009 “New Beginning” speech in Cairo, President Obama also promised to mend the U.S. relations with the Muslim World, which some alleged to have been “severely damaged” during the Bush administration. According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, President Obama even directed him as a priority NASA mission “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” This overall outreach to the Muslim world isn’t working out so good, either.
For example, my last several email messages have noted the unfolding political issues in Egypt and Iran—summarized below. While reflecting on those thoughts, consider—among other things—the additional instabilities created by Syria’s use of Chemical weapons, including how Russia is playing in this mix and our efforts to defend against the possible existential threat from instabilities in the Middle East. Not pretty. Then there’s China . . . and, among other things, its apparent interest in “militarizing space” while seeking to prevent us from protecting our space systems . . .
Egypt in Turmoil.
In his recent article, “The Choice in Egypt,” Charles Krauthammer’s bottom lines seem sound. He argues democracy is not now in the cards—we should see near future possibilities as binary, with the possibility of our brand of democracy being “zero” under the Muslim Brotherhood vs. “slim” under the Egyptian military. He concludes, “Slim trumps zero.”
We should “stay tuned” to how things evolve under General El Sisi to see if anything like Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s “democracy” can emerge in Egypt. But even if it does, we should be mindful of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s retreat from our NATO ally’s secular model 70 years after Atatürk’s 1938 death—and not forget that El Sisi explicitly rejected secular models of democracy in his 2006 Army War College thesis, as we discussed last Friday.
In any case, I’d recommend that you do your own study, including on the web, to appraise what we are up against and the likely effectiveness of our policies in the Middle East. I don’t’ find the mainstream media to be much help. A couple of suggested articles are Andrew G. Bostom’s PJ Media analysis of El Sisi’s thesis and Haim Harari on the American Center for Democracy Blog, “A View from the Scorching Summer, Following the Arab Spring.” Prof. Harari sees recent Egyptian history as being eerily similar to events in Germany during the 1930s—and notes the U.S. administration’s lack of competence (to be generous) in dealing with the challenges in the Middle East.
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Distractions from the Looming Danger from Iran.
The latest news from the Middle East focuses on next steps in Egypt (where U.S. influence has been dramatically eroded by inconsistent U.S. policy) and Syria’s now affirmed use of chemical weapons and how President Obama’s will respond given his so-far ignored “red line” threat over a year ago of “enormous consequences” for this case. These are important matters, to be sure. But they should not distract us from responding to the existential threat from Iran.
The days are trickling down to when Iran may cross Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “red line” and get enough critical nuclear material to build a number of nuclear weapon. This event is urgently important, and not only for Israel. Any nuclear weapon that Iran could use to attack Israel can be used to attack the United States.
The Israelis have been preparing to deal with this threat, though they don’t discuss how—especially how they might preempt Iran’s getting nuclear weapons. But it is well known that they also have been diligently building ballistic missile defense systems that could intercept ballistic missiles, including from Iran.
The U.S. should follow suit—and we can if we but choose to do so. We should not ignore this threat. If/when Iran gets nuclear weapons and can mate them to ballistic missiles that they already have, they will pose an existential threat to the United States. Let me count the ways:
- Nuclear-armed ICBM attacks over the North Pole—we need to strengthen our current defenses, especially for the Eastern Seaboard; congress is aware of this problem and is pressing the administration to provide improved defenses.
- Nuclear-armed Satellite attacks over the South Pole—we are vulnerable to this mode of attack, which they may have practiced; and it appears to be being ignored by everyone.
- Nuclear-armed short, medium, or intermediate range missiles launched from vessels off our coasts—we are vulnerable to this mode of attack, but could employ Aegis ships normally near or on our coasts to provide limited defenses if we trained their crews to do so. Aegis Ashore sites, like those to be built in Romania and Poland, also could address this problem.
- Nuclear-armed short, medium or intermediate range missiles launched from the south—from the vessels in the Gulf of Mexico or from Latin America—and we are totally vulnerable and will require the deployment of effective defenses to counter such attacks. Aegis Ashore sites could provide this defense, but there are no apparent plans to provide them.
Any of these attack modes can be used to detonate a nuclear weapon above the United States to create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could cause irreparable damage to the key large transformers of the electric power grid—and that under certain well known conditions could cause a complete failure of the electric power grid for an indefinite period. The ultimate result anticipated by credible experts could be that the consequent chaos would lead to the death of several hundred million Americans within the following year.
It is very important to harden the electric power grid so that if an attacking missile gets through the defense and detonates its nuclear weapon high above the United States, we will not lose our electric power indefinitely. If we can accomplish this hardening of the electric power grid, then we will have a good chance of reinstating other critical infrastructure upon which our survival depends. Such hardening will also protect us against EMP from the solar storms that will someday occur. For a more complete summary of these issues, see our August 2nd email.
In addressing these concerns, it should be emphasized that the federal government’s first duty is to provide for the common defense. Providing effective missile defenses and hardening the electric power grid as quickly as possible should be a national priority.
Then there’s China’s Validated Interest in Space Warfare.
In the August 26th edition of The Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz, described recent tests of three maneuvering satellites that have the features associated with antisatellite (ASAT) operations—and could also be setting the stage for space-based defenses, though Gertz did not make that observation. He quoted an unnamed defense official as saying that “This is a real concern for U.S. national defense . . . three [satellites] are working in tandem . . . this is part of a Chinese ‘Star Wars’ program.”
Of particular interest in this context, Gertz stated that researchers tracking these satellites noted that, on Aug. 16, one of them lowered its orbit by about 93 miles, then changed course and rendezvoused with a different satellite—passing within 100 meters of it. This test is reminiscent of aspects of the Delta series of experiments conducted by the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in the mid-1980s. This also is not really surprising.
As our Independent Working Group (IWG) discussed in Appendix B of our 2009 report, some of the key technology for miniature space based interceptors made its way from the U.S. to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) in the United Kingdom and then to China. The Chinese are simply taking advantage of the technology we pioneered and discarded when then Defense Secretary Les Aspin “took the stars out of Star Wars” in 1993. Regrettably, the Clinton administration purged the missile defense acquisition system of advancing this technology and nothing has been done since to revive it. Maybe China’s interest will jar someone to think again about that “reset” with which we are still living, 20 years later.
In any case, these tests could be part of a serious effort to develop and deploy a space based ballistic missile defense (BMD) system—which, as we have often observed, is the most cost-effective global BMD system. Gertz emphasizes China’s interest in ASAT activity and war in space activities, but seems to miss this important point. He does point out that while the administration fully appreciates at least the space-on-space potential activity, but is playing it down because it “does not want the American people to know about it because it would require plusing up defense budgets.”
This is not the first indication of China’s interest in ASATs, of course. China’s 2007 ASAT test shocked U.S. military and intelligence leaders because of U.S. satellite vulnerabilities—and this demonstration created a large amount of space debris still in orbit today.
Gertz quotes senior U.S. officials who have said China could cripple U.S. war-fighting efforts by knocking out a dozen satellites, which are used for military command and control, precision weapons guidance, communications and intelligence-gathering. And he summarizes important studies that indicate China will not give up these programs—and I agree.
So, China moves ahead—while we refuse to exploit the most important technology that came out of the $30-billion invested in the SDI era between 1983 and 1993—that long ago could have given us, for a fraction of what we have since spent on missile defenses, a global defense against ballistic missiles of all ranges more than a few hundred miles.
Reagan was right in his interest is space defenses! And still we dawdle.
By the way, such a space-based defense could shoot down satellite delivered nuclear weapons that could be detonated over the U.S. when surface-based defenses may be overflown.
A “reset” every now and then can be a good thing if it reflects an advance. This administration has had a doozy of record on “resets” that were definitely not advances—and we aren’t finished paying the price for the failures.
The administration needs a profound change in recognizing the jihadi threats that we face, including from within the United States—and in framing strategies to deal effectively with them. They can and should begin by calling them by their proper name—and not hiding behind such ridiculous labels as “workplace violence” that was applied to Major Nidal Hasan’s clear jihadi attack at Ft. Hood.
In an unrelated but important area, they could significantly help their record if they would “reset” a space defense program that revives efforts to build space-based defenses that were ready to be deployed twenty years ago. They can thank China for calling it to their attention.
So, resets are not bad in and of themselves—the Devil is in the details.
High Frontier Plans.
We at High Frontier will continue to inform the powers that be of existential threats to the American people—as we have discussed in our emails for many months—and to urge them to “provide for the common defense” as charged by the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Hopefully, key federal authorities and members of congress will soon begin to deal more effectively with this existential threat.
Key initiatives are to urge the Washington powers that be to undertake both the Shield Act and efforts to enhance our ballistic missile defenses, especially for our citizens on the East Coast and around the Gulf of Mexico, where they are completely vulnerable to ballistic missiles launched from vessels in the Gulf—or from Latin America, e.g., Venezuela.
But frankly, we have come to doubt that Washington will act in an expeditious way. Thus, we are also taking the message to grass roots America. Our local and state authorities need to understand these issues and what they might do if their federal representatives continue to fail “to provide for the common defense.”
It would be wise for other state legislatures to follow Maine’s initiative and harden the electric power grid in their states, while holding the Washington authorities accountable for their oath to provide for the common defense.
And what can you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public and your local and state authorities to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
We can use your help in spreading this information to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!