The British Defense Ministry, which has been holding intensive talks with its transatlantic ally, is analyzing the possibility of the Pentagon's involvement in resolving the question of a more reliable ABM defense system for the United Kingdom. This could be carried out either by purchasing the next-generation ABM system in the United States or by the direct deployment on British soil of U.S. contingents with the latest systems for the interception of foreign ICBMs. "So what?" the impatient reader will ask. "Let them buy or deploy, it is their right."
But the point is that the ABM system in question here does not exist yet! Furthermore it should not exist in principle -- that is stipulated by a major international legal document, namely the 1972 Soviet-U.S. treaty signed specially for this purpose. As it prepares for the meeting with Boris Yeltsin in May the White House is behaving quite properly with regard to "antimissiles" -- all the information leaks suggest that if there is reciprocity from the Kremlin, Washington is set on further reducing the cost of the existing means of defense against "ballistic shocks."
In the Old World, however, and in London in particular, people have suddenly discerned a dangerous symptom in "Clinton's pacifism" (!) -- and they are sounding an alarm which the new bosses of the Senate and Congress across the Atlantic are hearing loud and clear. Having ousted their spineless opponents from Capitol Hill, the dynamic Republicans have been successfully forming a bloc on the ABM issue with the Pentagon, which is clearly hungry for a new round of the arms race. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Senator Bob Dole are starting the campaign for the creation of interceptor missiles with a speed in excess of 3 km per second. What name is to be given to all this? The weapons makers are
calling this venture a "limited ABM system for potential theaters of military operations." Limited? But even in the United States critics of the U.S. military-industrial complex' ruinous plans are openly saying that this is the offspring of the "star wars" program which even Reagan's "hawks" did not implement. There you have it! You can argue about "local theaters" as much as you like, but the grandiose scale of this plan cannot be hidden. Because the Russian experts have in fact been protesting against such plans at the Geneva talks for two years now.
It seemed not so long ago that the West understood Moscow's misgivings on this score at least partially. Now, however, that understanding is about to evaporate. It is not only the Americans who have suddenly discovered that they urgently need a new ABM system but also the British and other adherents of the "indestructible defense" of European civilization. "What are we doing to make you so afraid?" the Russian side is wondering. "Perhaps it is not your fault," they tell us. "Maybe instead it is Iran and Libya, which want to buy modern ICBM's from the DPRK. Furthermore, Iraq does not want to forego its Scuds. India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia also have high-tech ballistic systems.... Who knows, perhaps all this will one day rebound on the NATO countries? So it would be better for us to cancel the signatures of Brezhnev and Nixon on the 25-year-old fundamental document, rearm ourselves to the teeth again, and furthermore do so on a qualitatively new basis.
I should like to ask the following question: Why is it that Moscow, which in recent years has done more than anyone else to achieve a global reduction in the level of nuclear missile confrontation, should now forego its security once more for reasons totally beyond its control? Yes, many developing countries have seen from their own bitter experience the defects of the "new world order" and are feverishly hurrying to create their own counterbalance -- counter to the unipolar hegemony of the Western and, first and foremost, the U.S. military-industrial complex. But are the Russians really to blame for this? On the contrary, we constantly warned that when the eliminators of the "Soviet threat" had gotten over their "post-communist" euphoria they would again run into a host of undesirable problems and complications. Unfortunately nobody listened to us. Instead they are now angrily blaming Moscow and demanding the wholesale dismantling of the achievements of detente and common sense, without which the military-political atmosphere in the West will finally become a living hell.