I’m old enough to remember Democrats mocking President Ronald Reagan for the idea of a missile defense program. They contemptuously labeled the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) as “Star Wars,” after the popular movie series. It was impossible, they said, and a complete waste of time and money. Thank God they were so wrong.
While it’s funny to think of Democrats complaining about wasted money, very few dollars Washington has spent since then have been better used.
The threat of terrorism from ISIS, al Qaeda, and other radical Islamic groups to individuals is very real, as we've learned all too often. But behind the threat looms a larger one – the rogue nation with nuclear weapons.
Thanks to the Obama administration, the Iranian regime is on course to have a nuclear weapon in a few years. Thanks to the Clinton administration, the North Koreans have one now and are feverishly working on an intercontinental ballistic missile to deliver a warhead to the continental United States.
President Reagan’s dream of a missile defense system was important during the Cold War, but the Soviet Union was at least a rational actor with its self-preservation impacting its actions. There is little reason to believe Iran and North Korea can be held in check by the concept of mutually assured destruction.
This reality makes the need for continued work on perfecting the missile defense system more important than ever.
That’s what made the news of the recent successful test of a defense system that intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile such great news. The test was of something called the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) technology that intercepts incoming missiles. The technology has been deployed in Alaska and California, but should be a higher priority with this Congress.
Preventing an evil organization from smuggling a small nuclear device into a city is the charge of the intelligence communities of civilized nations, but stopping a rogue nation hell-bent on attacking the United States, or any other nation for that matter, with a missile strike. Both are important, obviously, but one is getting a lot more attention than the other.
Under the Obama administration the missile defense program was not a priority. It wasn’t stopped, but it wasn’t getting the resources something upon which our very existence depends deserved.
The administration of President Donald Trump has made rebuilding our depleted military a top priority, which is a very good thing. Missile defense needs to be a part of that rebuilding.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is certifiably insane. Raised to be a god with absolute power, it’s unclear if he believes his own press or is in on the joke. But that “joke” is the central premise behind his still being alive. Since no one in his circle has taken him into custody for crimes against humanity or simply applied his warped sense of “justice” to him is a testament to his grip on power. In other words, he’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
Kim’s continued missile tests and his own declarations of wanting to strike the United States with a nuclear bomb have to be taken seriously. That they are all being done with the full understanding that the United States could make the entirety of North Korea a cautionary tale and a distant memory of humanity is a clear indication the dictator is not constrained by the boundaries of reality and won’t be deterred by it.
The Mullahs in Iran share a similar attitude untethered to reality, though theirs is religious and hatred based. The United States is certainly on the Iranian “hit list,” but our ally Israel sits alone atop their target list.
Ideally preventing religious zealots who believe murdering non-believers and even similar believers who don’t believe properly is the key to paradise would be the priority. But thanks to former President Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry, that horse has left the barn. The deal with Iran all but ensures the Islamist regime will go nuclear in the near future. That leaves a reliable and robust missile defense the only sensible reaction to the previous administration’s folly.
Thankfully the research and development partnership between the military and the private sector has not been deterred by the actions of reckless administrations in the past, and the technology needed to keep us safe has advanced since President Reagan was mocked for speaking of it.
What was once a dream and a joke is closer to reality than ever before. It’s also needed now more than ever.