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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Pic of the Day

Test Failure Sets Back U.S. Missile Defense Plan

Our missile defense program has certainly followed a rocky course. From the very beginning, when Kennedy mocked Reagan's plan by calling it "Star Wars", many of the scientific experts have been very skeptical about our ability to overcome the huge technical hurdles in killing a missile in mid flight. Nevertheless, I've supported missile defense despite the huge cost, uncertain technical future, and multiple setbacks. Is it that I've made up my mind and don't care about the facts? No. It's because other facts argue strongly for missile defense. All war is primarily psychological. The ultimate target is not a silo during launch phase or a falling warhead; the target is always the enemy's will to continue fighting. The best argument for missile defense is how much our adversaries fear it. The Soviets were prepared to make huge sacrifices in return for Reagan's promise not to develop missile defense. Our experts never thought it could work but the Soviets were terrified it would. Reagan refused to bargain away missile defense and instead engaged them in an arms race that bankrupted them. Similarly, China has been very hostile to our R&D on missile defense. They have a good reason to be scared. Unlike the Soviets, the Chinese have only dozens of nuclear warheads. A defense that could stop most of them would make their nuclear arsenal irrelevant. Finally, North Korea has a regime that we would sorely like to replace but with one or two nuclear warheads, we dare not try. An effective defense to their missiles would spell the end of the NorK regime, and they know it. So I support missile defense because it doesn't matter if it will work; it matters if the bad guys fear it might.
On the other hand, this is the same strategy that failed miserably for Mr. Hussein. First, when Israel took out his reactor, and second, when the United States took out Saddam.
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