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  Extending the Missile Defense System
by J. F. Kelly, Jr.[writer] 6/14/07

Despite the obvious fact that all peaceful nations and the entire U.S. congress, which rarely agrees on anything, supports it, attempts to halt nuclear proliferation have failed miserably. Warnings of stern measures and endless threats of severe economic sanctions have been to little avail as rogue nations like Iran and North Korea move toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons. The danger that terrorists also might acquire them grows daily.

Over twenty nations, moreover, have ballistic missiles. The threat that a terrorist organization or rogue state will launch a missile that could reach U.S. territory or that of our allies cannot be ignored. And that is why we must continue, with all deliberate speed, work on our missile defense system.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Ever since detractors ridiculed Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative as “Star Wars” and described it as a hopelessly naïve concept that would bankrupt the defense budget, liberals have been virtually united in opposing this purely defensive program, highlighting its occasional failures and predicting an expensive flop. The Soviets and Chinese, on the other hand, displayed much more faith in American technological ingenuity judging from the hysteria they displayed over American determination to deploy such a system. Many feel that America’s determination to do so was a factor that contributed to the demise of the USSR. Perhaps the Russians and Chinese knew something that our liberals didn’t.

In any event, the program is moving along. It has had its successes and failures as most highly complex projects do. It is, after all, rocket science. But substantial progress has been made which is more than can be said for efforts to stem nuclear proliferation which have amounted to little more than talk and hollow resolutions.

Since the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002, more and more friendly nations, including many of the former Soviet  republics of eastern Europe, have expressed great interest in getting under the U. S. missile defense umbrella. Why is it that these nations also seem to have more confidence in American technological expertise that some members of congress do?

The United States, therefore, is planning to locate missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic to be linked to upgraded radars in Britain and Greenland and to a command-and-control center in Colorado. This system is designed to protect Europe from long-range (more than 1500 kilometers) missiles fired from Iran. The Iranians are expected to have such missiles within seven years and neither the UN or the United States has shown much determination to stop them.

Predictably, some Europeans nations, led by France and Germany, have accused the U.S. of acting unilaterally. Vladimir Putin went--well, ballistic. He threatened to develop bigger missiles impervious to defenses, hoping to fan fears in Congress. He warned that he would target European cities playing to European fears. Mr. Putin, of course, knows full well that these defenses are not designed to counter Russian missiles and that the ten interceptors in the Czech Republic would be no match, in any event, for Russia’s massive missile arsenal. They are clearly designed and intended to provide some level of defense against missiles launched by terrorists or rogue states.

Putin’s paranoia was to be expected. Less understandable were Democratic threats in Congress to kill the plan. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, chair of the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, is opposing DOD’s $310 million request to commence construction in 2008. She claims the missile defense system hasn’t been fully tested. Well, of course not. It won’t be “fully tested” until the final architecture is in place. If Ms.Tauscher’s argument were applied to every complex defense project, nothing would ever get built.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin appears to have cooled down. In a meeting with President George W. Bush at the annual summit of the Group of Eight in Germany, he surprised the world by withdrawing threats to aim his missiles at European cities if the U.S. would agree to use radar sites in Azebaijan rather than the Czech Republic. U.S. officials appeared cautiously receptive. However, we have an agreement with the Czech Republic and relying on radar site in Azebaijan would leave the system dependant on older Russian equipment of uncertain reliability. European leaders, of course, are pressing for the U.S. to work out a jolly compromise that keeps the Russians happy.

This much is clear. The world needs a missile defense system to provide at least some level of protection against missiles launched by terrorists or rogue states. The Polish-Czech installations, known as the “third site” are a part of this system. The U.S. has offered to extend protection to Russia and the Russian proposal of a site in Azebaijan may be an indication of a softening attitude. But whether or not an accommodation is reached, progress on the third site and on the ultimate system must continue unabated and unhampered by political opposition in Congress. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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