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When the Missiles Fly

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The war in Iraq, which did not have to begin, goes on because conservatives can't imagine stopping themselves. It's the philosophy of: If we're already doing it, it must make sense.

They play strategic weapons games much the same way. Conservatives have desired a viable ABM system since Reagan's "Star Wars". Through George W. Bush's European missile defense scheme, they continue to dream of spending gigantic sums of money on dangerous toys.

The goal of defending Europe from a missile-equipped Iran is a sham. First, the U.S. is not responsible for defending Europeans from Iran. Second, if the Iranians develop ICBMs, they can always launch them south in order to hit Europe. News flash for conservatives: the world is round. Third, Iran doesn't need a missile to bomb Europe. If they had a bomb, they could load it on a Gulfstream jet, file a flight plan, and shove it out the cabin door over Berlin. It is not hard to explode a nuclear weapon. Hideously expensive ABM systems will never change that.

The reality of conservatism has changed over time. There is now nothing they won't do and no amount of money they will not waste. They will start wars for no reason. They will encourage Wall Street to precipitate a catastrophic credit crisis and then blame "foolish home-buyers" for it. They will increase the national debt to the point we pay taxes simply to keep the creditors at bay.

Conservatives have done some real damage to our country, but this issue sets the bar even higher. If we let them waste our treasure on weapons projects that will only motivate other nations to do the same and if we continue to encourage the spread of nuclear weapons by having one of the world's largest arsenals, then there will eventually be a nuclear exchange.

There are about 11,000 nuclear weapons in the world. 10,000 of those belong to the U.S. and Russia. If even a small percentage of those go off someday, what remains won't be a world you would recognize. Weapons are designed and made to be used. Given enough time, they WILL be used.

We will not convince Conservatives to change their world view. What the rest of us must do is shake ourselves awake to the very real threat of nuclear weapons stockpiles. It is a problem we can not afford to ignore for another 50 years.

Many conservatives invoke the name of President Reagan as an example of a wise and ultimately vindicated conservative. Flashback to March 1983. That month Reagan made his "evil empire" speech and announced the "Star Wars" ABM program. Conservatives in the U.S. were impressed. So was the Soviet general staff. Then, as now, the Russians correctly saw ABMs, not as a defensive weapon, but as the way to make a surprise nuclear attack and then mop-up the few missiles an opponent would be able to fire in retaliation.

In the Pacific, Reagan's secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, ordered provocative naval exercises near Kamchatka. In April of 1983, U.S. naval aircraft violated Russian airspace over the island of Zeleny which made the Russians ready to overreact to any threat, real or perceived. Into that charged atmosphere flew Korean Airlines flight 007 which was shot down one sad night in September by a Soviet military afraid to let any provocation go unpunished.

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Tim Copeland served a 20 year career in the USAF flying reconnaissance RF-4Cs and working in a Army Corps liaison unit. After the AF, he was a taxi dispatcher, school department computer manager, community college adjunct faculty and computer (more...)
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