Consider this absurdity.
You live in a tough neighborhood and fear your neighbors, so you do the logical thing — you buy a new lock for your front door.
But learning of this your neighbor is outraged and says: “How dare you. If you install that lock, I will be forced to break into your house to protect myself.”
Say what? Absurd, if not downright crazy, right?
But such is the dynamic we now enjoy with Russia, our former Cold War foe that is cyber-rattling again.
Specifically, when Russia learned last week that NATO was proceeding with its missile defense system in Europe, Russia’s military chief of staff responded that “a decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens.” Then, to back up their threats, Russian officials showed computer modeling of nuclear missiles hitting the East Coast.
Yes, Russian officials essentially threatened a nuclear attack on America because NATO is building a shield to protect itself from such very attacks.
NATO — led by the United States — has been working on a missile defense shield for some time. Two words should stand out in that sentence: defense and shield.
Even if your knowledge of weapons is no greater than superhero cartoons, you can understand that a shield is meant to stop — not launch — things. In this case, the shield is meant to stop incoming missiles from Iran or Russia into Europe.
Call me naive, but Russia (and Iran) should only be troubled by this if they plan to lob missiles into Europe.
Just as I am not threatened or insulted if my neighbor installs a lock on her door, so, too, Russia shouldn’t be insulted or threatened by the defensive shield.
And come to think of it, don’t the Russian threats only reinforce the necessity for a defensive shield?
To show that it holds no ill will, NATO has even invited the Russians to participate in the system. And more amazing, because we are so worried about hurting the Russians’ feelings, we actually assured them that the shield cannot intercept Russian missiles targeting the United States. Specifically, Madelyn Creedon, U.S. assistant secretary of defense, said that NATO interceptors would be “simply in the wrong place” to counter Russian missiles.
How crazy is it that we need to assure the Russians that the shield won’t get in the way of any missiles they launch our way. If anything, such a response by Russia makes me think we need a second shield as well, one for us.
Finally, to show we are not hypocrites and that the shield is only meant for defensive, peaceful purposes, perhaps NATO should tell “new” Russian President Vladimir Putin this: If you want to install your own defensive shield along your border to protect Russia from incoming European missiles, go for it.
We don’t oppose it and won’t be offended for one simple reason: We have no desire to shoot missiles at you.
William Choslovsky is a Chicago attorney.