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Defensive missile program makes perfect sense for country

September 21, 2006

Missile defense, a staple of Republican national security policy since the Reagan years, has in recent weeks moved closer than ever to becoming reality.

On the Friday before Labor Day, a missile fired from Alaska was destroyed by an interceptor fired from several hundred miles away, thus successfully completing the toughest test to date of the Ballistic Missile Defense system. In a Pentagon briefing the next day, Air Force Gen. Trey Obering said, "Short of the North Koreans firing on us, this test was as real a simulation of the system's effectiveness that we could attempt."

The rationale behind a solid, functional Ballistic Missile Defense system is obvious in this age of rogue nations, dictators and imperialistic powers teaming up to threaten Western civilization.

North Korea, long suffering under a madman dictator, has a missile that can reach the western coast of the United States. Like North Korea, Iran is pursuing development of the nuclear material necessary to make strategic weapons infinitely more deadly - and Iran has access to missile technology from China. Hugo Chavez's Venezuela is a growing threat, as well.

North Korea's response to the successful BMD test said everything we should need to hear to know America is doing the right thing in pursuing this defensive technology. The test "was aimed at attacking us and intercepting our missiles," complained the Korean government via KCNA, the country's state-run news outlet, the day after the successful exercise. This "clearly shows that it is the U.S. which is increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and threatening war against our country," the KCNA further noted.

Having bankrupted and starved its citizens in pursuit of a military far beyond its resources - and needs - North Korea is facing the prospect that one large, powerful and very expensive weapon is in very real danger of being rendered completely useless. That's a giant blow to the rogue nation's ambitions.

North Korea's ire makes those ambitions very clear. What explanation can there be for North Korea, or any other country, to have a serious objection to the United States' Ballistic Missile Defense system, besides wishing us harm, or wanting other nations to be able to hold America, the greatest force for good in the world, in check?

On the domestic front, BMD protects all Americans, regardless of race, creed or political affiliation; as the system is further improved, we all benefit. With this taken into account, the strident opposition to our implementation of any form of missile defense on the part of some Americans belies an inexplicable longing for the days of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the wish there was still a counterweight to the United States with opposite values and equal destructive power - namely, something to fill the void left by the Soviet Union's late 20th-century demise.

While it is true MAD worked, to an extent, as a deterrent during the Cold War, there is one glaring deficiency in relying on it for survival: Each side depends, at all times, on complete rationality on the part of the other side. In other words, each side's survival depends on the prevailing of cooler heads every single time a situation gets a bit testy. The opposition must have leaders who at all times subscribe to - and care about - the fact they and their own people will perish, along with their enemies, as a result of their launching an attack.

Therein lies the problem. It would be beyond foolish to blindly trust that North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khameni and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Chavez and others will put their anti-Western, imperialistic desires and their histories of violent irrationality, behind them.

In this age of increasing global threats, Ballistic Missile Defense has the potential to make America safer and more secure. Likewise, the terrorists and dictators who despise the West with every fiber of their being are not going to change their minds as a result of any attempts on our part to appease them. In light of these facts, why would those not opposed to America's continued prosperity - or, for that matter, its continued existence - stand against development and employment of BMD as a tool in our quest to protect our nation and its people to the utmost?

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran who served in Iraq, is a senior at the University of Georgia.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 092106


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At 11:18 AM, Anonymous salvage said...

So if it takes one nuke to level Washington and the so-called shield can protect against 100 missiles then they will fire 150 missiles to get the job done. See that’s the problem with this scheme, if it can be overwhelmed then it’s not a defense it’s an obstacle. I will leave you to figure out the difference.

That of course assumes that it’ll even work outside controlled simulations, your description of the test is disingenuous at best. For instance did you know it was delayed due to fog? Let’s hope the North Koreans attack on a clear sunny day and call up NATO before they fire so they’ll know where to point the interceptors.

And if the Koreans decide that somehow attacking America is in their interests and that they can win in the open salvo (which even a loony like Kim must realize they can’t) why launch a detected missile? Much more practical to float the nuke over on a ship or on a commercial flight or some other subterfuge. You seem to be assuming that the enemy will play by your scenario a rather deadly supposition. See Iraq for the why.

This “Star Wars” nonsense is a waste of time and money that could be spent on defense that reflects reality.


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