The liberals' other argument is that an ABM system won't work. We need the American can-do attitude expressed in the World War II slogan: The difficult we do today; the impossible may take a little longer.
The Bush administration has moved steadily to build several methods of defense against both short-range and long-range missiles and many tests have been successful. However, we still have no capability of destroying an ICBM in its boost phase.
A functioning ABM system might be even more necessary in the post-Sept. 11 world than in Reagan's world. In 1983, the terrible nukes could be built only by superpowers with a sophisticated technological base, Today we are in an era of rogue nations with irrational dictators and poor man's missiles that can be built and launched relatively inexpensively, and might even be bought from cash-hungry Russians who still have 3,500 long-range missiles and up to 15,000 smaller tactical nuclear weapons.
In addition to facing down intimidation from North Korea and Iran, the United States needs anti-missile defenses because China is using the huge amounts of cash it gets from U.S. trade to modernize its ballistic missile arsenal. We live in a dangerous world, and there is no excuse for our government to fail to build the best defenses we can in order to save American lives.
If we shoot down a North Korean missile with our own anti-missile system, that would send a powerful message to North Korea that its tactics are a loser. It would also reassure Japan and other U.S. allies that we have the will to protect them from rogue madmen.
The best way to discourage nuclear proliferation would be to demonstrate that the United States is willing and able to destroy their missiles before they hit their targets. It's time for the United States to let the world know that we have an anti-ballistic missile defense system to protect our people and our allies, and that we will use it.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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