Stumbling Over the Truth About Missile Defense

by | Apr 19, 2003

Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” Churchill was not speaking of national security or missile defense, but his words apply nonetheless. The truth is the United States currently has no defense against a missile attack. If […]

Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” Churchill was not speaking of national security or missile defense, but his words apply nonetheless. The truth is the United States currently has no defense against a missile attack. If terrorists or a rogue nation launched a missile attack, we could not protect ourselves.

The threat is serious, real and growing. Terrorists are searching feverishly for missiles to buy or for the parts to construct their own. North Korea is resuming its nuclear program and already has missiles that can reach the United States. During the last decade, China significantly upgraded their offensive missile capability by stealing US technology.

Some congressional “leaders” stumble over these facts and nonetheless dust themselves off and scurry away. Some oppose President Bush’s plan to develop and deploy a robust, multilayered missile defense system. They make a number of claims — that missile defense is unproved and cannot work; that it is too expensive; and that it will divert us from the war on terror. Each of these claims is false. But their frequent repetition lends imagined credibility nonetheless. If we ignore the truth after stumbling over it, we do so at our own peril.

Detractors say it cannot be done – “You cannot shoot down a ‘bullet’ with another ‘bullet.'” They are wrong. Four of the last five tests were successful. The only recent test shortcoming was caused when the booster rocket did not properly separate. That is a simple quality-control issue – not a weakness of the technology.

These tests are no easy feats. The interceptor first locates and pursues the missile. Then it distinguishes the missile from decoys. Finally, at a closing speed in excess of 15,000 miles per hour (20 times the speed of sound), it slams into the missile, destroying it in a “body-to-body” collision. Four of the last five tests were successful.

How can anyone say that it can’t be done? This is like someone telling Orville and Wilbur Wright that man will never fly, after they successfully tested their airplane at Kitty Hawk. Was their flight perfect? No. But it proved it could be done. Likewise, tests prove we can shield ourselves from missiles.

Detractors also complain that missile defense will cost too much. However, missile defense is a bargain. How much would we have been willing to pay to avoid the events of September 11? Without even attempting to put a price on the lives lost on September 11, the economic costs alone have exceeded hundreds of billions of dollars. In the coming years, if America suffers a missile attack, it will be much worse than September 11. Those who say missile defense costs too much are not considering the alternative.

Detractors also claim that missile defense will distract us from the war on terror. However, missile defense is a key part of the war on terror. To say that testing and deploying a missile defense system will divert us from the war on terror is like saying a Navy will divert us from having an Army. Just as our Navy and Army are critical parts of a strong military, missile defense and the war on terror are critical parts of our homeland defense.

President Bush has announced that by 2004, we will have 10 land-based missile interceptors. In 2005 or 2006, we will add 10 more interceptors. Critics will argue that the system is not yet perfect. But this initial step will give Americans protection from missile attack. Moreover, it will be the foundation for future, more sophisticated missile defenses. President Bush’s aim is to shield Americans from the threat of missile attack. It is time for the detractors to stop stumbling over the truth and pretending nothing happened.

George C. Landrith is the President of Frontiers of Freedom, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans and restoring constitutional limits on t

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

The Young in America Turn Against Capitalism

The Young in America Turn Against Capitalism

If young people worry and wonder about their retirement future, their health care, and medical needs, their chance to afford a place to live, and a reasonable possibility for their lives to be better and more prosperous than their parents, it is precisely because government over the decades has either taken over or heavy- handedly imposed itself over all these and other sectors of the American economy — and brought them to financial crisis and imbalance.

The Justice of an All-Volunteer Military

The Justice of an All-Volunteer Military

The most equitable and just sharing of the burden of America’s military is assured by its all-volunteer nature, and that conscription would be inequitable and unjust.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest