Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 23, 2008
WAR: A Giant Step Forward For Missile Defense

25 years ago next month, President Reagan made this bold proposal to the nation:

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

I know this is a formidable, technical task, one that may not be accomplished before the end of this century.

Yet, current technology has attained a level of sophistication where it's reasonable for us to begin this effort. It will take years, probably decades of effort on many fronts. There will be failures and setbacks, just as there will be successes and breakthroughs. And as we proceed, we must remain constant in preserving the nuclear deterrent and maintaining a solid capability for flexible response. But isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is.

Reagan's proposal was immediately derided by Ted Kennedy as "Star Wars"; ever since, liberal critics have been arguing that it was impossible for such a system to work, or at a minimum arguing that it was not worth developing the technology if it could not be shown that it was already a workable system before development and testing were commenced (pretty much the opposite of how your usual R&D works). defense critic Fred Kaplan, for example, has mocked the missile defense system as "bunk" and a "fantasy," while Greenpeace contends that "Missile Defense Does Not Work." Of course, these arguments have often been stalking horses for a variety of other ideological concerns about restraining U.S. "bullying," tying us more closely to international treaties, or not "militarizing space" (as if the worst imaginable place for war is a vacuum containing no civilians). Much as in the debate over coercive interrogation techniques, liberal critics prefer to pretend that things they dislike can never, ever work, so they can avoid the debate over the kinds of tradeoffs involved in defending the nation.

This week's successful effort to shoot a malfunctioning satellite out of the sky showed the world quite vividly how far these technologies have come:

(Hat tip to Congressman Eric Cantor for the video).

I await the response from the critics:


Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:47 AM | War 2007-14 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Objections to Reagan's missle defense proposal were not fundamentally rooted in partisan politics, but rather in practical and game theoretical concerns. On a practical level given the number of missles and warheads that the Soviets had (and still have) a missle defense would have to shoot down 99.9% if not all incomings to prevent nucelar holocaust. Thus, while the defense system has the advantage of being able to attack a rogue satellite such as a few days ago, it would not without complete accuracy prevent an alpha attack. The second objection is that by developing such a system you undermine the strategic balance between the powers, encouraging them to give consideration to a preemptive strike before we develop such a technology, especially if there's a chance of making it foolproof. And I havent even mentioned the billions that would have to be spent. So in the end it is not a partisan issue that led to the stoppage of Reagan's plan. On similar issues related to our survival not as a country but as a species....i.e. global is as important that partisan politics be put aside and practical and scientific considerations given their head. I know you think that's impossible Crank, but I do not.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at February 23, 2008 3:16 PM

"militarizing space" (as if the worst imaginable place for war is a vacuum containing no civilians)"

GPS, which is used for weapons guidance, shipping, rail, air, let alone farming and private maps.
Communications, which is used for, gee whiz, everything - including covert ops.
Security and spy satellites, which help to let us know where our enemies are, from small camps to nuclear material being moved.
Future (20 years out) solar satellites, capable of collecting huge amounts of energy and beaming it back down by laser/microwave. Giving power potential cheaper (and more realistic) than fusion, and getting us off both coal and oil.

Perfect place to be militarized. After all, if Russia decides to create their own GPS, and have a friendly nation in desperate need of money shoot down a bunch of ours - and cripple us for years. Blind, deaf and dumb - perfect time to declare war.

"This week's successful effort to shoot a malfunctioning satellite out of the sky showed the world quite vividly how far these technologies have come:"
It has never been difficult to shoot down a satellite. Not really, once you can get a rocket into the air. We've been able to do it since the early 80s, and the soviets were trying earlier(to counter the space shuttle). Same tech as 25 years ago, same principle from 40+ years ago. Hasn't come that far - just newer weapons, and fancier cameras.

But please, don't make it seem like it is anything more than a response to this.

Posted by: Dave at February 23, 2008 7:48 PM

It is progress. But shooting down a satellite, as opposed to shooting down hostile missles, is like trying to hit a golf ball versus trying to hit a curve ball. With one, you can take your time, and you know exactly where it will be. With the other, you have short notice, little time to calculate its trajectory, and the possibility that it can take evasive action. So I'd say the puzzle isn't really solved just yet, and won't be until we've spent billions more.

Posted by: Jerry at February 23, 2008 9:28 PM

The last thing we need in the current economic climate is another government boondoggle costing billions of dollars. I'll take my chances on the likelihood of a a suicide bomber flying trans-Atlantic on an ICBM.

Oh, those "small government" Republicans. Someone keep their freakin' hands away from the checkbook.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2008 8:27 AM

Oh the short sighted Libs. Doesn't this qualify as a job program? It has provided lots of high paying jobs to Americans...and helped to make the world a better place. A win-win situation.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 24, 2008 10:27 AM

LOL at SDI as a job program!!!! Ok Irish, than for that matter social security, welfare, the EPA all provide for jobs for Americans. Now THAT'S a twist, conservatives justifying government programs based on the jobs they provide rather than the money they remove from the economy. I've heard it all.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at February 24, 2008 11:26 AM

Seth, unfortunately you did not detect the tongue-in-cheek. However, I would much rather pay for workers to perfect missle defense than to pay couch potatos to sit on their a$$es drawing money.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 24, 2008 1:18 PM

Star Wars cost billions of dollars, and for what? But you know know conservatives are: they love to spend the public's money for their idealistic government programs!

Posted by: steve at February 24, 2008 5:20 PM

I'm so glad the partisan differences were put aside so that we could avoid the ice age we were supposed to be having right now.

Posted by: Board at February 24, 2008 5:46 PM

I was very much in favor of SDI when the Soviets, and their 20 zillion missiles were aimed our way. Keeping that type of program now is very much a Maginot Line. And no country ever got better fighting the last war.

If we want a real national defense against our current enemies (which does indeed include Putin---you know, the man of faith our idiot president things has great stuff behind the eyes) then it behooves us to develop an independent energy policy. That way we get to sell the up and coming Chinese and India lots of power, and bankrupt our enemies in one shot. Oh wait, we can't give up oil. I think the, uh, Bushes are in the oil business.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 24, 2008 9:28 PM

I was very much in favor of SDI when the Soviets, and their 20 zillion missiles were aimed our way.

Me too, Daryl. As always, you are the voice of reason.

Posted by: Mike at February 25, 2008 7:34 AM

So where are the missiles pointed now? Straight up? You know, the missiles they could at least account for....

Posted by: kevin at February 25, 2008 1:49 PM
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