The U.S. successfully shot down a dummy missile today in the Pacific. Although, it didn’t contain the decoys of a real missile it still was an important test because it showed that we could intercept the missile. Captains Quarters points out that this test is a message to Iran as well as North Korea. I agree and think that anti-ballistic missile technology is an avenue of research which should be pursued heavily. However, I think to make true missile defense feasible one of two things has to happen.
- The U.S. pulls out of the treaty which bans nuclear launches in the atmosphere for any purpose. If a nuke is coming at New York or Los Angeles the most reliable way of stopping it is with a nuke explosion nearby. While our current SDI systems have a margin of error of 3 or 4 feet (or fractions of a second of arc) a nuke just has to be exploded within a few miles of the missile to destroy it. That system should be our current stopgap against major missiles while we work on better systems.
- Work on laser technology. Lasers have the advantage of having more than one shot in them. Therefore it is far harder to saturate a system with missiles and decoys. Also a laser would be far cheaper to deploy and could be used in space which is the main stage of the ICBM.
Liberals have consistently attacked this technology as undermining MAD and precipitating a nuclear war. Given that the US doesn’t have a reputation for striking with nukes without warning (Japan was during a war) the development of an anti-ballistic missile system doesn’t encourage countries to strike immediately. In fact it discourages them because it becomes more and more UAD in favor of the US which is a strong disincentive against using nukes.
Although the arguement of, “for what we spend on one bomber we could spend on….” is not usually a valid one it is here. The United States has the offensive capacity to destroy any country, but its primary mission is to defend us and nothing offers better prospects than an anti-missile system.