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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un acte de guerre contre les peuples

by Monique Picard-Weyl

The US Anti-Missile Shield: a Crime against Peace

Translated Saturday 2 June 2007, by Isabelle Métral

Jurist Monique Picard-Weyl returns an "offensive" verdict against the planned US defensive scheme. Its very existence, she argues, would jeopardize the security and independence of the European countries which act as bases, and would spark off a new arms race across the world.

Little has been said about this project: satellite surveillance of enemy territory and activities. Which means a close watch over all the states and nations that want to break free from the domination of the US and from the system it imposes in its path, and mid-course interception - from a base in Europe and more precisely one of the East-European countries - of the enemy’s missiles. The Czech government has already given its assent, despite the strong mobilisation of the population against it.

The German Foreign Secretary has issued a warning against the risk that this project might spark a new arms race, and Russia itself has declared its opposition to it. In France however the question has not been seriously broached, even though the question was raised during the presidential campaign, the candidates having in the main said the issue was to be settled at the European level; Ségolène Royal said that she doubted the efficiency and credibility of the scheme: “Would the Europeans be effectively protected by an American umbrella” over which they had no control?

And yet it is a major issue: not only because it would inevitably lead to a new arms race and would once more expose European nations to the threat of renewed dependency on the US, but also because the approach to the general question of disarmament and especially nuclear disarmament would definitely be altered.

It would be extremely naive to believe that a shield is just an ordinary defensive weapon; possession of a shield also encourages aggression because it gives the aggressor every confidence that the shield provides safe protection against the victim’s potential retaliation against the proposed strike. And then of course, on at least two occasions (11/09 and the outbreak of the war in Iraq), we have have given proof of US Intelligence’s fallibility with respect to surveillance.

As for its capacity to intercept missiles in mid-course, its attempts so far have proved unsuccessful, and where the interception would take place is a matter of grave concern. It could not take place over the country from which it were launched since the missile (possibly carrying a nuclear war-head) would be cruising at full speed, and have left behind that country’s space, in less time than it takes to react. And as the inviolable US territory must be protected at all costs, barring the unpredictable possibility that the missile might get lost in the Atlantic, the European countries would be sure to bear the consequences even though they had no say in the operation, especially as the country from which the anti-missile missile was launched would be the first target.

This shows up the deception behind the doctrine of deterrence. And it shows that the only true protection against nuclear weapons in all places and at all times is a total, unconditional ban on them, the legal foundation for this being the criminal character of their use, and so of retaining, and of perfecting them. For the preparation of a crime must be assimilated to the crime itself: this follows from the principles on which international law is based, whether the rules established by the conventions of The Hague or Saint Petersburg and validated by the Nuremberg judgement in international law (notably the ban on indiscriminate bombings on civilian populations, on the use of arms likely to cause unnecessary harm to civilian populations and fighters), or the ban in the United Nations’ Charter on using force or merely threatening to use it. As the preamble has it, the guardians of its principles are not the governments (the peoples’ representatives), but the peoples themselves, who are “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind."

The struggle is and must be theirs.

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