A Boost for the Military-Industrial Complex
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union,
is president of Green Cross International and an adviser to Russian president
Moscow-It is said that the risks of attacks by
weapons of mass destruction are greater today than during the Cold War
and that is why the United States must build a national missile defense
(NMD) and abrogate the ABM treaty.
I believe the opposite: A national missile defense could spark a new round
of the arms race that will make the world even less secure than at the
height of the Cold War.
Since I don't assume that the Americans are indeed contemplating launching
a war from behind their shield I have to wonder: Perhaps the whole idea
of NMD is to start a new arms race as a way to spur economic and technological
development when the global economy is weakening?
This suspicion is not just a wild guess. I remember talking last year
with a prominent member of the Russian military-industrial complex who
had just returned from meeting high-level officials in the US. He sought
a meeting with me in order to share his joy.
"What are you so happy about?" I asked. He said, "my American
counterparts and I concluded that tensions are rising in the world and
that means we will all have new defense contracts. We'll have a lot of
This may be in the interests of arms dealers, but is it in the interests
of the global community? Do we want a situation where defense contractors
dictate our security policies? I don't think so.
Security lies in the radical reduction of nuclear weapons, not in a new
After India exploded its nuclear bomb three years ago I had a meeting
with the Indian ambassador to Moscow. He told me: "Look what is happening
in the nuclear club. Years are going by, but the major nuclear powers
are keeping their weapons despite the absence of strategic conflict. This
means they want to keep the ultimate weapon so they can dictate their
rules to us. This is a signal to over thirty countries who have the capacity
that they, too, should acquire nuclear weapons."
That kind of proliferation will be the result of the US seeking to put
a defensive umbrella over its own head, thus giving it an offensive military
edge, while ignoring the need for global security.
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