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From: FAIR <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 5:48 PM
Subject: ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ Aren’t Starting an Arms Race—Washington Is

[image: FAIR]
‘Hypersonic Missiles’ Aren’t Starting an Arms Race—Washington Is view post

*by Joshua Cho*
[image: NYT: Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re Starting a
New Global Arms Race.]

*The New York Times Magazine (6/19/19
presents the push to build hypersonic missiles as driven by fear that “the
nation might fall behind Russia and China”—downplaying the US’s systematic
dismantling of arms control treaties.*

“Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable — these are rare but highly
desired characteristics on the modern battlefield.” That’s how the *New
York Times Magazine *(6/19/19
described the hypersonic missiles being pursued by the United States,
Russia, China and other countries in a nearly 5,000-word collaborative
article that seriously misleads readers on who started and is currently
driving the next phase of the global arms race.

The *Times *article, “Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re
Starting a New Global Arms Race,” opened with statements by Michael
Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for research and engineering.
Characterized as “an unabashed defender of American military and political
supremacy” and the “chief evangelist for hypersonics,” Griffin brags about
being an “unreconstructed Cold Warrior” and cites the US’s rapid
development of the atomic bomb as a precedent for treating hypersonic
missiles as the “highest technical priority

This is a country that produced an atom bomb under the stress of wartime in
three years from the day we decided to do it…. This is a country that can
do anything we need to do that physics allows. We just need to get on with

[image: RAND graphic comparing ballistic and hypersonic missile defense]

*A RAND graphic demonstrates how much more difficult it is to intercept a
hypersonic missile (called an HGV here) vs. a traditional ballistic missile
(Business Insider, 4/30/18

Following the usual alarmist formula used to sell military upgrades to the
public, the *Times *then made the predictable pivot to uncritically
transmitting false claims about the need to “act quickly” lest the US “fall
behind” the Russian and Chinese menaces. The piece advanced several scary
scenarios—like China rendering US aircraft carriers “obsolete,” or
attacking “military headquarters in Asian ports or near European
cities”—and went on to advertise the potential advantages that
“revolutionary” weapons having the “unprecedented ability to maneuver and
then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes”
could offer US foreign policy and military strategy:

Hypersonic missiles are also ideal for waging a decapitation strike —
assassinating a country’s top military or political officials. “Instant
leader-killers,” a former Obama administration White House official, who
asked not to be named, said in an interview.

Within the next decade, these new weapons could undertake a task long
imagined for nuclear arms: a first strike against another nation’s
government or arsenals, interrupting key chains of communication and
disabling some of its retaliatory forces, all without the radioactive
fallout and special condemnation that might accompany the detonation of
nuclear warheads.

The *Times *mentioned that the hypersonic missiles the US is developing
will “only be equipped with small conventional explosives,” while noting
that “nuclear warheads” are being fitted onto Russian hypersonic missiles,
without expanding on the significance of this divergence.

Analysts and experts not cited in the article have noted that the
conventional narrative of US hypersonics lagging behind Russia and China’s
is misleading, because the countries have different goals. Russia and
China’s hypersonics program is focused on delivering nuclear warheads,
which require much less precision and investment than US hypersonics,
focused on the “much more difficult” task of delivering non-nuclear
warheads (*CNBC*, 5/11/18

Other experts have argued that the conventional narrative is false, because
the US is “still the leader” in hypersonic missiles, having researched them
for over a decade
and has “done a lot more than Russia and China have,” while noting that
Russian and Chinese hypersonic development is aimed at overcoming US
missile defense systems near their
to preserve their nuclear deterrent (*Business Insider*, 4/30/18
[image: Newsweek: China and Russia Warn of 'Arms Race' in Response to
Donald Trump's U.S. Missile Defense Plan]

*Russia and China have consistently warned that the US’s scrapping of arms
treaties will inevitably lead to a dangerous arms race (Newsweek, 1/18/19

As I’ve written earlier (**, 5/17/19
nuclear strategists have long known
that “missile defense” systems are actually offensive weapons designed to
obtain a first-strike advantage by neutralizing retaliatory strikes. Yet
the crucial context of Russia pursuing its hypersonics program as a cheaper
and more rational strategy
opposed to pointlessly competing with the US by creating its own
missile-defense systems—and as a response
to the US’s unilateral 2001 withdrawal
from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty limiting those systems, is
buried near the end of the article, in the 43rd paragraph.

Instead, the *Times* preferred to ascribe agency and responsibility to
mysterious forces and inanimate missiles manipulating the US both in its
headline—it’s the missiles that are “starting a new global arms race,” not
the government—and in its claim that “the rush” to possess hypersonic
missiles has “pushed the United States into an arms race with Russia and

In fact, the *Times *misleadingly points to “the threat” hypersonics pose
to “retaliatory weapons,” which could “upend the grim psychology of Mutual
Assured Destruction,” without once noting that destabilizing US ballistic
missile defense systems deployed near Russian and Chinese borders are already
doing just that
with Russia and China pursuing hypersonic nukes capable of penetrating US
missile defenses precisely to  restore the balance of Mutual Assured

Nor did the *Times* quote statements
from Russian and Chinese officials warning that US missile defense
expansion will “inevitably lead” to an “arms race in space” with “the most
negative consequences” for “international security and stability,” and
their desire to avoid an arms race because the US already has a military
budget much larger
than Russia’s and China’s combined. This is consistent with FAIR’s findings
(*Extra!*, 5/01
of corporate media ignoring the US’s long-term goal of weaponizing and
dominating outer space under the pretense of expanding missile defense
[image: BOTAS: Who Lost the INF Treaty?]

*The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (10/26/18
argues that “the decision to scrap the INF Treaty endangers the entire
architecture of nuclear arms control agreements.”*

However, the most glaring omission in the *Times*’ coverage of the arms
race—in keeping with its cover for US missile defense expansion—was its
failure to ever mention the US plans to unilaterally scuttle the crucial
1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning US and Russian
medium-range missile arsenals, despite Russian attempts to save it (
*Al-Jazeera*, 1/17/19

That Russia is developing mid-range hypersonic nuclear weapons in response
to US suspension of the INF treaty would be an important thing to mention.
Also worth mentioning: that US drones
and the Aegis Ashore missile defense system are in clear violation of Article
in the INF Treaty, while US allegations of Russian violations have never
been demonstrated (*Common Dreams*, 2/1/19

Physicist Theodore Postol published an exhaustive report (*Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists*, 2/14/19
refuting false media coverage and official US claims, echoed by credulous
media coverage, that its Romanian and Polish Aegis Ashore sites aren’t in
violation of the INF Treaty because they lack offensive capabilities, and
are merely deployed to counter long-range missiles from Iran. Postol
pointed out that the US Aegis systems in Eastern Europe lack the ability to
detect long-range missiles, but are capable of launching cruise missiles
that could make near-zero warning nuclear strikes on Russia.

While US allegations of Russia’s 9M729 missile being a “blatant violation”
of the INF Treaty could be true, the *Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists* (
has noted that the “blatant violation” narrative has been uncritically
accepted across the media, despite being almost impossible to verify,
because the US hasn’t publicly released any evidence for its claims. The
Congressional Research Service’s report
on the matter repeatedly mentions that the US hasn’t publicly provided “any
details” and has failed to “cite the evidence” used to make this

The *New York Times *laments that “stopping an arms race is much harder
than igniting one,” while falsely referring to how all the military
superpowers have decided to go “all in.” More to the point, it’s very hard
to stop an arms race when major newspapers obscure who or what is driving it
perpetuating the false narrative that the US only responds to threats, and
never instigates them.

*You can send a message to the New York Times Magazine at
[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> (Twitter:@NYTMag
Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.*

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