Cliff May

But then they all might have given some hard thought to whether it makes sense to devote time and resources to developing nuclear weapons and missile systems that the U.S. and its allies will have the resolve and the ability to neutralize.

In fact, the U.S. and Japan did have Aegis destroyers tracking the North Korean missile. Some of those ships carried missile interceptors that could have brought down the North Korean missile. A decision was made not to do so.

One can argue that was a prudent decision. But how can one make the case for the Obama administration's plan to cut $1.4 billion from America's missile defense programs? Six senators, Republicans and Democrats, have sent a letter to the president saying such "deep cuts" could "undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat."

In other words, the lesson of North Korea's rogue launch is that America needs more missile defense not less. Militarily and technologically, our adversaries can catch up with us only if we choose to stand still. Why would we do that? And why are only half a dozen senators worked up about it?

Defending American lives and the American homeland is the first duty of every administration. North Korea and Iran are developing capabilities with which to threaten, intimidate and possibly attack the U.S. and its allies. An integrated, multi-layered missile defense system would help frustrate their ambitions.

Should we not, at the least, have a vigorous debate before we decide to forego such protections?

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.