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Rebuttal to Globe & Mail "Star Wars" Editorial

Dear Editor:

I used to have a wall plaque that read “Warning: don’t release tongue before brain is engaged”. I was reminded of this by reading your perverse editorial “Canada’s missile role” (Friday, January 9), which urged our involvement in the u.S. missile defence scheme, supposedly on the basis that this would “enhance Canadian sovereignty” .

The idea that sovereignty would somehow be asserted by choosing to immerse Canada even further in the military designs of a foreign nation — especially of a nation apparently bent on worldwide imperial control — seems to me so wrong-headed as to need no further rebuttal! One might just add that it would surrender not only our sovereignty, but also the interests of Canadian citizens, for most Canadians have no wish to dominate or exploit the rest of the world. It is also very dangerous to identify oneself as part of, rather than as critic of, an imperialist regime: one thereby chooses to make oneself a target of resistance (and maybe tenorism) —- and to become part of the wreckage when the empire falls, as one day it certainly will.

As you admit, the scheme in which Canada is considering participation is for “midcourse” interception by (for now) ground-based anti-missile missiles. Therefore your remarks about “boost-phase” interception, and also about Patriot missiles, are totally inelevant and serve merely as obfuscation. By contrast, your claim that the relevant technology is “welladvanced and has proved effective” is, instead, false. In fact that technology cannot be made to work. It problems cannot be overcome by improved gadgetry, because they are inherent in the basic physics of the mid-course missile tracking methods (basically radar and infra-red detection), which make it easy and cheap to thwart interception (e.g. by using radar ‘chaff’, cooling the warhead surface, deploying decoys, and so on). As I and others have repeatedly pointed out, in your paper and elsewhere, this argument has been published in full detail (perhaps most thoroughly by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists —- go to and click to their report “Countermeasures”); there has been no scientific or technical rebuttal of this argument by the Pentagon or anyone else, and none of the U.S. tests has even engaged this problem. Hence your claim is wrong, and for our government to proceed on such a basis would be fraudulent — it’s time some people did some homework.

Nor is it valid to say that fears about a new arms race should have lessened. In fact Russia has halted the dismantling it had begun under Start II, and is reinstating “multiple independently-targetted re-entry vehicles” (MIRVs); furthermore the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals are on high alert, often even on “launch-on-warning”, so the danger of “accidental” holocaust is high. China, in turn, now feels its small deterrent intercontinental force is inadequate: it is increasing it, and plans mounting on mobile launch pads and on submarines, and recently tested MIRVs. In short, the new alms race is already under way as we talk! Can it be that you are unaware of these escalations?

Your editorial closed by invoking a fear of our “strategic” “impotence”. What do you mean by such a phrase? If you mean we will not project coercive powers overseas, I think I join with nearly all Canadians in saying that I indeed hope we will not do so. If you wish rather to propose that Canada will become vulnerable to attack from elsewhere, then you owe it to your readers to clarify that scenario. In my own view, there is no such threat, except and only to the extent that our government chooses to identify us with the policies of the U.S., seen widely, after all, as the greedy bully of the world. Yet that identification is the course you appear to urge.

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