Ed Feulner

With Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issuing threats about America’s planned missile defense for Europe, it may be time to remind the Obama administration why we need such defenses in the first place -- in Europe and elsewhere.

Plainly put, we live in a dangerous world, and we need to do everything possible to remain safe.

Iran and North Korea are trying to acquire the ability to target us and our allies with ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear weapons. And they’re not alone: North Korea has provided such technology to other hostile nations, including Syria.

Think the Middle East is a powder keg now? Imagine a state like Syria equipped with nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Hello, World War III.

President Obama is still wed to his “reset” strategy with Russia. But the fact that our efforts to shield ourselves from catastrophic attack are upsetting Moscow pales next to the folly of remaining needlessly vulnerable. So even as we work to keep rogue states from obtaining the ultimate weapon, we can’t neglect the need to protect ourselves in a worst-case scenario.

Indeed, a missile shield could do much to prevent the Irans and North Koreas of the world from acquiring such weapons. After all, why go to the trouble and expense of building them if you know they’re unlikely to succeed? It wouldn’t be practical. So missile defense, besides bolstering our security considerably, can help keep the world from becoming a more volatile place.

Some critics may still insist that missile defense isn’t technologically feasible. Actually, the science has advanced to the point where this argument doesn’t hold water. Test after test has shown that you can, in fact, “hit a bullet with a bullet.” And if you couldn’t, why would our adversaries be so dead-set on stopping us? Why not sit back and let us pursue a pipe dream? Because they know what the critics don’t: missile defense works. And it means they won’t be gaining the upper hand.

Besides, in a post-9/11 world, it’s irresponsible to rely only on deterrence anymore. During the Cold War, you could get away with “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union was about to launch an attack guaranteed to invite major retaliation. But with states with unpredictable leaders and terrorist camps racing to become nuclear powers, such a policy would be more “MAD” than ever.

As Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova explain in a recent Heritage Foundation paper, we need a three-step plan to ensure we get a missile defense able to do the job:

Ed Feulner

Dr. Edwin Feulner is Founder of The Heritage Foundation, a Townhall.com Gold Partner, and co-author of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today .
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