In the first Clinton-Dole debate, Bob Dole let Bill Clinton get by
with his boast that "no nuclear missiles are pointed at U.S.
children." Dole could have retorted that a Russian general recently
told CBS's 60 Minutes that he could retarget the powerful Russian ICBMs
in a matter of minutes.
The United States has no system capable of shooting down ballistic
missiles, whether they are from Russia or some rogue nation. That's an
appalling default of leadership, since the U.S. government's number-one
constitutional duty is to "provide for the common defense."
The reason we have no defenses against incoming ballistic missiles
is the Clinton Administration's slavish adherence to the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty. Written by Henry Kissinger and signed by
Richard Nixon in 1972, it is today highly dangerous to U.S. security,
as well as obsolete and irrelevant to current threats.
In 1972 the terrible ICBMs could only be built by the superpowers
that had a sophisticated technological base. Now, 24 years later, we
are in the era of the "poor man's missiles" that can be built and
launched relatively inexpensively, and might even be bought at bargain-basement prices from cash-hungry Russians.
The theory behind the ABM Treaty was Mutual Assured Destruction,
popularly known by its acronym MAD. Each of the superpowers was
supposedly deterred because of the knowledge that a massive launch by
one side would be followed by massive retaliation, and that would
assure the destruction of both sides.
The ABM Treaty was based on the rationale that the leaders of the
two superpowers were rational and would act from a mutuality of self-interest and deterrence. The biggest threat today is from the "non-deterrables" (Libya, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea), countries that
don't like us and behave in ways that we don't find rational and our
State Department is unable to predict.
When Ronald Reagan asked the crucial question on March 23, 1983,
"Would it not be better to save lives than to avenge them?", he
struck a body blow to MAD. His determination to go forward with
developing and deploying an anti-missile system (later known as our
Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI) was the principal factor in ending
the Cold War.
Unfortunately, the liberal politicians and the media are still
chanting Ted Kennedy's hysterical epithet, "Star Wars," and
persisting in their devotion to the stupid notion that it's safer not
to defend ourselves. Keeping America vulnerable to missile attack only
encourages the state terrorists to build ballistic missiles as the
surest way to threaten the United States.
This excessive commitment to the ABM Treaty has brought about a
"deliberate dumbing down of our fighting capabilities," according to
Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, a nationally recognized expert on strategic
systems and arms control policy. The 28 U.S. military personnel who
were killed when a Iraqi Scud hit their barracks during the 1991 Gulf
War might have been spared if our Patriot missiles had not been dumbed
down because of ABM Treaty concerns.
What America most urgently needs is a ballistic missile defense
system capable of destroying an offensive missile during its boost
phase, that is, soon after launch and before it reaches its ballistic
velocity when it can release its warheads, decoys and penetration aids.
Then, the warhead would fall near the launch site.
Since the boost phase is so short and a defensive system must be
able to react within 10-20 seconds after an unanticipated launch, the
system must be continuously deployed. A system of satellite-borne
lasers or interceptors orbiting in space over potential launch sites is
the only kind of system that can realistically meet this requirement.
We ought to give the highest priority to building effective, on-station, wide-area defenses against missiles that rogue dictators can
use to threaten us or our allies. We should start today with an
investment of $1 to $2 billion a year, heading toward global space-based system deployment by 2001.
The liberals (who are never deterred by their high cost of
government programs they like) pretend to be worried about the cost of
a satellite missile defense system. Actually, its cost is not
excessive compared to the cost of not providing such protection.
And it's not excessive compared to the cost of other protections
such as air superiority (hundreds of billions for the F-14, F-15, F-16,
F-18 and F-22), or command of the sea (hundreds of billions for
aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines), or superior
ground forces (tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, and helicopters).
The ABM Treaty represents a Maginot Line mentality, that is, a
system foolishly designed to protect against the previous war, in this
case, the Cold War. Even Henry Kissinger, the author of the ABM
Treaty, admitted that it now "makes no sense in the multipolar world
of proliferating powers."
Continuing to try to adhere to the ABM Treaty means imposing on
ourselves restrictions that do not apply to potential enemies. The
United States should withdraw from the ABM Treaty immediately, as
permitted in Article XV, and then build the most effective, affordable
defenses that current technology permits, with or without Russia's