Another crucial item on our defense “to do” list is one that many Americans think we already have: a comprehensive missile defense. We have a rudimentary one in place, but we need one with land, sea, air and space capabilities. That means locating sensors throughout the world -- and above it. It also means increasing the number of interceptors we have to counter long-range missiles. With a layered system, we have a much better chance of destroying an incoming missile.
Such a system can protect us not only against a conventional nuclear attack (launched either deliberately or accidentally), but from an EMP -- a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy from a nuclear warhead exploded above the ground. Its purpose: to cause severe current and voltage surges.
An EMP could fry all electronic devices within a large radius, including all the cell phones and other devices we rely on in our daily lives. It could shut down the entire power grid and transportation systems over a large region of the country. It’s that serious.
When it comes to the war on terrorism, we must maintain a sufficient fighting force in hot spots such as Afghanistan. Pulling out entirely by year’s end would be a huge mistake. We need a robust force there beyond 2014. If the people there know that the U.S. will remain engaged for the foreseeable future, it will weaken the hand of terrorist networks who are counting on the U.S. vacating before the situation is stable.
“You ask how to fight an idea,” Messala says in the film Ben-Hur. “Well, I'll tell you how. With another idea.” Conservatives should take heed. Thwarting bad policy is vital, but we can’t stop there, especially when our security is at stake.