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  • China Says U.S. Missile Defense "Destabilizing"

    The Obama Administration is granting legitimacy to Chinese and Russian claims that strengthening U.S. missile defenses are aggressive and instigate conflict.

    More recently, it has done so regarding plans to place a second missile defense radar in Japan to defend against North Korean missiles.

    At a recent joint press conference between U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, Panetta emphasized that the radar is in response to the increasing threat from North Korea’s ballistic missiles and does not threaten China. If history is indeed a good teacher, one can deduce that China will oppose the move, as Beijing has increased its opposition to U.S. missile defense in the Asia-Pacific.

    The Obama Administration is right to cooperate with Japan in this way but wrong to emphatically assure China that the radar won’t diminish the ability of China’s missiles to hit U.S. ships. It is similarly wrong to assure Russia in the context of Eastern European missile defense cooperation.

    The Administration’s plan to place missile defense assets in Europe to defend against incoming short- and medium-range ballistic missiles has angered Moscow. The systems, it says, are a threat to its own nuclear missile force and are therefore “destabilizing.” In March, President Obama was caught by an open microphone begging then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to give him “space” on missile defense until after the American election, when he would “have more flexibility.” Presumably he would be able to weaken or entirely abandon the plan in exchange for Russian approval. Just two months later, a senior Russian official threatened to attack European-based American missile defense sites.

    Indeed, U.S. missile defense systems are currently designed to defeat the kinds of limited threats posed by rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. But it is vitally important that the U.S. government make clear that it will not purposely limit the development or deployment of the system because of China’s and Russia’s opposition.

    They oppose it, in part, because it takes away their ability to target U.S. military assets or cities. This is a reason to strengthen our efforts to increase security, not a reason to weaken them. Presumably, U.S. systems will one day be able to intercept Russian and Chinese missiles. This is not something to apologize for or avoid.

    If the Chinese are concerned that the discriminating radar in Japan will diminish the effectiveness of its increasingly deadly anti-ship missile arsenal, we shouldn’t be assuring Beijing that it will not. Instead, the U.S. should assert its right to freedom of navigation in international waters and the right and commitment to protect itself from any country that desires to impede it.

    U.S. missile defense is exactly that—defense against offensive missiles. It isn’t aggressive. Nor is it a “threat” to stability. It is, and will continue to be, an asset to the furtherance of peace and an answer to those who would threaten it.

    Rebeccah Heinrichs is a Visiting Fellow in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to China Says U.S. Missile Defense "Destabilizing"

    1. Robert Stane says:

      Let me see if I understand this clearly. Russia and China are objecting to our ability to defend ourselves? And they object that we are blocking their ability to kill us? And we are apologizing???

    2. raju says:

      we have to make more anti ballastic missiles, so we can save our future generation people from evil countries. such as: 1. china 2. russia 3. north korea 4. iran. up to today date, these four countries are really threat to our world and for our new young generation people. the whole world/UN should take further step to takle with these four axis of evil counties. thanking you.

    3. Americaisbeautful says:

      This is troubling since Obama has already authorized the reduction of our defenses! If re-elected his plans are to further reduce our defense posture in the world! Thus leaving the greatest military power on earth "limp" and ineffective against an ever hostile China and Russia not to mention Iran! Americans don't yet understand who Obama really is and what he believes! He is an anti- colonialist who believes that America should be at the mercy of the worlds despots to give America her "come uppence" as it were for her past crimes of gaining prosperity that feeds the world! God help us!

      • Eric says:

        A reduction in our defense budget does not make our armed forces inept – if you believe that then you have little faith in our servicemembers or the systems they operate. You're also discounting the accomplishments of Libya where the President made NATO work like it's supposed to, halting the dictatorship of a state that supported terrorism against free nations, AND doing it without loss of American life or committing a large share of the nation's treasury. If cold war relics like Sen McCain, VP Cheney, and then SecDef Rumsfeld had the type of strategic calculus maybe our economy wouldn't have become subjected to the financial strain of that war. No war bonds raised, scanty intelligence used to maneuver the UN to a resolution that would justify invasion, and only now under this President has the black hole been stopped and no more American sons and daughters sacrificed. I think that position is also an overestimation of countries who would actually have reason to start a kinetic war with the US, like Iran – China and Russia gain nothing by starting a major war, especially in a global economy – that is the equivalent of mutually assured destruction.

      • angelo r catalano says:

        defining obama an anti colonialist as it was a weakness is pretty weird. united states doesn't own colonies.
        Japan is not a colony, nor south korea or uae. so you should not be worried. they are just allied nations for one reason or another. they are somewhat obliged to acquire u.s. weaponry, but the average american citizen won't get any advantage from this. hence Obama is aware there's no reason to spend more on weaponry. if you check some charts you'll discover that the amount of weapons at america's side is enough to destroy any living thing in the world many times. you should boost exports rather than worrying for chinese rockets. if you spend trillions to build next generation weaponry how do you think to get back all that money? invading iran? this is hmm.. optimistic.

    4. Eric says:

      President Obama's decision (incidentally proposed by then JCS Mullen and Sec Gates, both Bush-era folks) was wise – not necessarily politically popular because of how the GOP is trying to spin it, but it was the best thing for America. We need a defense against the cheap, widely proliferated, modern day V-2 rocket that turned WWII Germany from an Iran-equivalent to a global power.

    5. Eric says:

      Tactically it makes more sense – moving targets at sea instead of a fixed target whose GPS coordinates are easier to find than a McDonalds restaurant, and whose resupply routes are predictable.

    6. Eric says:

      Operationally flexible – EPAA is a template that can be transferred to any region because interceptor missiles target ballistic missiles at the midcourse and terminal phases, so a MD system based at sea isn't limited to countries with a coastline, and you can position ships to set up a better intercept of trajectories from road mobile ballistic missiles – a growing trend in countries with a ballistic missile program. Hence the increased press on setting up the basic infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

    7. Eric says:

      Strategically – just as you mentioned, the EPAA template is defensive – it is not obviously directed toward any paticular nation but rather gives us and our allies the capability to respond to a known threat. So the thought of neutralizing a offensive weapon that countries like Russia and China have invested billions is daunting, but the defensive nature of the weapon discredits the argument that MD is an act of war. Additionally, the interceptors being designed are not capable of intercepting ICBMs until 2018 (Missle Defense Agency fact sheet) – further proof that strategic capabilities of China and Russia are maintained, but regional powers such as Iran who are a long way off from this level of strike weapons, much less mounting a nuke on one.

    8. Eric says:

      As far as the "space" President Obama spoke of, at my "armchair President" level, I could see two basic alternatives if the Russian President can keep the right-wing Russian populace from removing political support/leverage:
      - most likely: include Russia in the Missile Defense network – it is set up for plug and play now – NATO ALT BMD is working through compatibility issues right now at various issues – security, system engineering, etc. Senior Russian officials have said publicly (more recent than the saber rattling comment from this summer) that cooperation is possible (China Daily article 9/11/12 "Russia/NATO May Cooperate…" & Voice of Russia article 9/11/12 "Russia/ NATO Balance of Power")

    9. Eric says:

      - less likely: cooperate with russian position to sign an agreement that md is not designed SPECIFICALLY for Russia. Such an agreement can be spun among Russians as a win, but the reality is that it has no teeth because of how the EPAA and similar networks are set up – you can target any missile from any location you want b/c it is based at sea – that's the biggest advantage gained from the shift from Bush's Cold War approach of fixed missile launchers in Poland.

    10. Eric says:

      In an election year, both of these could be spun to say Obama is cowtowing to the Russians b/c we're actually taking their desires into consideration instead of treating them as if they were irrelevant. Soundbites make it hard to describe to the average person a solution to a complex and somewhat technical problem.

    11. Mutantone says:

      Is this the same sytem that Obama gave the Russians the information about, allowing them to find a way to work around it?

    12. Eric says:

      If you don't know what system this article is discussing your comments are useless. Second if you have something that says the President gave the Russians classified information (the only way to create a workaround) then it's your duty to report it and cite your credible source. Otherwise any information available about a DoD system has been cleared and accessible by USC Title 10 disclosure requirements aka public law

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