The US media is persistently deceptive in reporting on Missile Defense Systems. Of course the US media in general doesn't really want to talk about this issue.
The US has now placed a new system in Romania. An Eastern European base has been in the works for some time and there's an upcoming base being placed in Poland. Ostensibly a 'shield' from the Iranian threat everyone except the US media and public knows the missile site is directed against Russia.
But isn't it just defensive?
That's the usual focus, that Russia is mad because it would hinder their ability to attack in a West-ward direction. The idea is that their missiles (fired at Europe) would be shot down by Anti-ballistic missiles fired from the site in Romania.
But this is deceptive. The missile defense site could also fire offensive missiles at Russia in order to take out their missile sites.
So while it can claim to be a defensive apparatus it actually can just as easily serve as an offensive base. The launch system, the Mark 41 VLS, or vertical launch system used for Aegis, the Navy's version of this system is also designed to fire Tomahawk missiles which are nuclear capable. Officially the nuclear version of the Tomahawks was decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but that could quickly change especially with Obama's proposed re-vamp of the arsenal. The platforms are in place for offensive weapons. You can be sure the Russians will be doing all they can to watch what is being delivered at the new base in Romania.
Effectively the US has placed a potential nuclear missile attack base in a country near the Black Sea and Ukraine and soon enough there will be another base in Poland, further encircling Russia.
In addition, if you're familiar with the idea of nuclear deterrence, the elimination of Russia's ability to defend itself through counter-attack and mutually assured destruction (MAD) means that they feel vulnerable. This happened before and it led to the massive proliferation of new MIRV and MRV weapons, anti-ballistic missiles and what was perceived by all parties to be an episode of chaotic and frenzied weaponisation. The only way to defeat an anti-ballistic missile system was to overwhelm it and thus every target now had to have multiple warheads aimed at it.
Finally it was Nixon and Brezhnev who signed the ABM Treaty in 1972. This stopped the proliferation and secured the concept of MAD. Use of the weapons was unthinkable and so (it was argued) the world was safe.
Reagan began to undermine the ABM Treaty in the 1980s. Star Wars violated the treaty in spirit if not in letter. Finally it was altogether scrapped at the end of 2001 by the Bush Administration. The move spoke volumes about US posturing post 9/11 and certainly sent a strong signal to Putin. It should have been a huge news item but the US public was focused on Afghanistan and al Qaeda. Since then the US has continued to move against Russia and these missile 'defense' bases are only the latest gestures.
The so-called 'end' of the Cold War was clearly a myth. The US considers the job 'unfinished' and has been working to destroy, partition and appropriate Russia over the past twenty-five years. The plan was going rather well under Yeltsin, but then Putin came into power and squelched US ambitions. And yet, he's vulnerable and up against the wall. The US is clearly spoiling for fight and preparing for further confrontation.
As a final note I can only say that during my time in the USAF I handled nuclear weapons and I vividly recall one operation in which we were loading a missile on to a plane (a C-141) and the colonel running the operation was getting pretty agitated and anxious. There was talk of a 'time window' and a 'satellite' and it was made clear we had to get the thing on board and get the doors closed. We only had a few minutes.
We may have been 'legal' in what we were doing but it was clear the US wanted to keep the movement of the weapon a secret. In fact I believe the issue wasn't where it was going but the fact that it wasn't supposed to be there at all.
The lesson here is that the US (like other nations) plays fast and loose with the facts and certainly with international law, reporting and other obligations. It's no great surprise but it means that Russia is left to 'trust' that the US won't place different types of missiles at these new bases and that their purpose is only what Washington 'officially declares them to be.
Finally it must be noted, the placement of this base hardly helps to rid the world of nuclear proliferation. There's a real irony in the fact that this base is opening just as Obama is visiting Hiroshima. The media of course just plays along with it all.