20 March 2013
No missile defense base in Maine
By Bruce Gagnon
Opinion Piece
Bangor Daily News


It is more than understandable why leaders in the Caribou area would be excited about the recent announcement by the Obama administration that a “missile defense” base on the East Coast of the U.S. will now be studied. After all we are talking about “jobs,” and what self-respecting community leader could turn away from that proposition?

Caribou, Maine, and Fort Drum, N.Y., have been mentioned as possible East Coast basing locations for the technically challenged missile defense interceptor system that the administration now plans to expand. Congress has mandated that a study be undertaken to determine the best East Coast location for the base.

Luckily we have another study to help us sort through this important jobs question. It helps us to determine just what is the most cost effective way to create jobs with our hard-earned tax dollars.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Department has produced the definitive study on military investment as a job creating mechanism. Called “ The U.S. Employment Effects of Military & Domestic Spending Priorities,” this study takes a look at how many jobs are created for every $1 billion invested in military production versus the same amount of money spent on clean energy, health care, education and other areas. In every case more jobs are created when the funds are put into the non-military investments.

In addition to the waste of our tax dollars by investing in military production, we also know that these so-called “missile defense” systems are destabilizing and will lead to a new arms race.

The Pentagon base-location studies have been justified by the supposed “nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran.” At this time neither of those nations have the capability to launch a rocket that could reach the continental U.S.; nor would they likely fire one even if they could. Consider the massive nuclear attack the Pentagon would likely unleash in response.

These missile defense systems have not been proven to work. When Obama first became president, he decided to de-emphasize this Boeing-led program (called the ground-based mid-course missile defense system) because it had failed to effectively perform during testing. This recent decision to ramp up the program appears to be a political one. It indicates that Boeing, and their many sub-contractors, have secured enough congressional support to put the program back on track.

This proposal is the perfect example how our democracy, and our economy, have become captives of the military industrial complex. We are reminded of President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning to us to beware of the power of the weapons industry. In his last speech to the American people before leaving office, the Republican and former Army General said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”

Further attacks on social progress here at home will be necessary to pay for these unnecessary “missile defense” deployments.

The Pentagon’s missile defense programs are actually the “shield” that accompanies U.S. first-strike attack planning. After the first-strike sword is thrust at Russia or China, those nations would theoretically launch a retaliatory response at the U.S. It is then that the Pentagon’s “missile defense” systems would be used to pick off the retaliatory strikes.

Every year, the U.S. Space Command holds war games to practice a first-strike attack on China. Both Russia and China have repeatedly complained about U.S.-NATO missile defense deployments that are now surrounding their nations.

Russia has threatened to pull out of the New Start Treaty (Obama’s 2011 agreement with Russia for modest nuclear weapons reductions) because of U.S. “missile defense” deployments.

North Korea and Iran thus have become convenient excuses for the Pentagon to develop systems that are recreating the Cold War with Russia and China and putting big bucks into the coffers of the aerospace industry.

Maine Veterans for Peace and CodePink Maine have also taken a position to join the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in opposing any “missile defense” base in our state and pledge to help build active opposition to it.

Bruce K. Gagnon, of Bath, is the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Global Network