Star Wars was an idea for the future. It was an idea that was set into motion by Ronald Regan and at the time seemed almost like impossibility. That future is now. Now what seemed impossible is possible with todays technology and the technology to come in the upcoming years. George W. Bush is quickly picking up with where Ronald Regan left off. There is a plan in affect for a Missile Defense System. This system, known to us as The National Missile Defense System (NMD) will be capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, that have been launched by another state or actor, that are directed at the United States or its allies. However, with this plan for NMD that George W. Bush is pushing for, comes great international hostility. Many of the other states are asking the US to stop this project. However though this opposition the President is pushing on, not allowing other counties to compel him to change his mind. The NMD project however controversial it may be on the national and international scale must go on for the sake of the security of our nation.
Ever since 1950s the United States has been trying to pursue a ballistic missile system. In that time with the limited technology that was possessed it was not possible to produce an effective defense missile system. However now technology is available to give to several different options to a missile defense. To understand what these options are we must first understand what missile defense is. Right now the United States is currently developing several components for a missile defense system. The idea of this system is to take out in coming ballistic missiles. This system is used to protect the United States and its allies from ballistic missiles launched by other states or terrorist groups. There are three types of missile defense that the United States is currently working on to defend America and its allies. The first of these is a ground-based system. This system is called the ground-based interceptor. Plans are already in action to have them built in the North Dakota in Alaska. The National Missile Defense is heading this system up. The Ground-Based Interceptors, or GBI mission is to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere and destroy them solely by the impact of the missile. The GBI will carry no explosives on it of any kind. It will take out the ballistic missile solely by its speed. Ground infrared lasers and space satellites will direct it.The next idea that has been proposed is a laser system. For this system the government has contracted a private company called TRW Inc. the goal of this company is to produce a Tactical High-Energy Laser (THEL). The reason many people think that this will be more effective in protecting America and its allies is due to its effectiveness against short-range weapons. Theater threats-short range cruise missiles that do not leave the earth’s atmosphere cannot be shot down by a GBI. However, the THEL can shoot down short-range weapons as well as medium -range. This was scene in 1996 when a THEL prototype shot down a short-range rocket in flight on its first try. As well as working on THEL, TRW Inc. is working with the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in order to create a satellite laser system. This system will be capable of taking out intercontinental ballistic missiles. The third option and perhaps the most viable one is one of a mobile missile defense system. This system will be attached to either submarines or battleships. The system will be similar to the GBI, however it will be able to shoot missiles down over international waters before they even approach American soil. One of the questions on many people’s minds now is in light of the events of September 11th what good it is a missile defense system. Many people longer see the need for any of these three types of missile defenses.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War there seems to be no threat of a massive new nuclear attack against United States or its allies. So the real question is now why build this defense system. Who are we defending against?
The threat against the United States is no longer a threat from any superpower or any of the first world nations. The threat of ballistic missiles is now thought to be from the Third World nations, or Rouge States. in a statement given by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul D. Wolffowitz, to the Senate of the Armed Service Committee, he said, Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: A rogue state with a vastly inferior military, but armed with ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, commits an act of aggression against a neighboring country. As President Bush sends U.S. forces into theater to respond, the countrys genocidal dictator threatens our allies and deployed forces with ballistic missile attack. Suddenly, almost without warning, missiles rain down on our troops, and pound into the densely populated residential neighborhoods of allied capitals. Panic breaks out. Sirens wail, as rescue crews in protective gear race to search the rubble for bodies and rush the injured to hospitals. Reporters, mumbling through their gas masks, attempt to describe the destruction, as pictures of the carnage are instantaneously broadcast across the world. Mr. Chairman, the scene I have described is not science fiction. It is not a future conflict scenario dreamed up by creative Pentagon planners. It is a description of events that took place ten years ago – during the Persian Gulf War. As mentioned earlier the threat is no longer against a superpower or a single Nation it is against, it is against rouge states or fundamentalist groups. In a speech given by President Bush to this to the students and faculty at the National Defense University, he stated, Unlike the Cold War, today’s most urgent threat stems not from thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states, states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life. They seek weapons of mass destruction to intimidate their neighbors, and to keep the United States and other responsible nations from helping allies and friends in strategic parts of the world.Just because on September 11th the terrorist did not use ballistic missiles does not mean that they will not in the future. By implementing the defense missile system this is an act of deterrence. The defense missile system is not meant to be hostile at all. It is meant for the security and defense of our nation and our allies. It is meant as a defense against fundamentalist groups or rouge states. It is also a defense against other nations such as China. China may have already 300 + nuclear weapons deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles. On September 2, 1999 contest fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) that consisted of a 5,000 mi. range. It is also working on an ICBM that would be capable of firing 7,500 mi, and being able to be deployed on a submarine. China has used these ICBMs as leverage in dealing with Taiwan. China is a friend of United States, but also seen as a potential threat. Russia, another friend but also seen as a threat, has over 6000 nuclear warheads attached to ICBM, as of July 1999. This is a real threat that the United States does not want to overlook. The fact that there are these weapons are in an unstable Russia, America does not want to risk an accidental fire from them.
Many opponents to missile defense see nothing but trouble ahead. They understand it as a deterrence however but a threatening deterrence. Countries like Russia, China, and India see it as a clear violation of the Anti-Ballistic missile Treaty signed in 1972. Russia has many objections to United States creating a missile defense system. The first of these is the fact that they do not want another arms race, and neither do we. Secondly, both China and Russia share this view, is that they do not want missile defense to turn space into an area up of competition. They have read the articles that have been written by Space Command. In these articles it speaks of space being the fourth frontier warfare. China also sees this as an act of aggressive deterrence. They believe that America is just starting another arms race. This aggressive deterrence, in a way is seen by Russia as a form of control on the international playing field. It is not only China and Russia that is opposed to America’s missile defense plan; there are also European concerns as well. Europe is concerned that United States will disregard the comprehensive test ban treaty kill the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM). In a way there is some concern; for if the United States were to continue to pursue a missile defense system the Senate would have to agree on killing the AMB Treaty. The European nations and other states see this as a major failure in U.S. foreign policy. The reason for this being, is because if United States kills the AMB Treaty, then what is to stop other countries, like Russia from creating more ballistic weapons? There are other arguments as well for the opposition of a NMD system.
Firstly, people have said that it is like shooting a bullet down with a bullet This leads one to believe that it cannot be done. If you can imagine a gun firing a bullet out of it heading up into the air, than someone else firing a gun into the air trying to hit the first bullet that just fired than you have just pictured what happens in a ground-based inception system. That is just one theory opposed against the NMD.
Secondly, many people question the effectiveness of the system. If the system proves to be ineffective, then the billions of dollars that was spent on it are wasted. These are real concerns that many people have and in the past may have been worthwhile. For prior to 1999, there have been many failed tests for a NMD system but there have also been some successful ones according to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
The monetary funding for the Missile Defense Organization is being well used. It is not going to waste and is proven in the success of the tests that have been conducted. There are numerous arguments on why the System should be pushed, and will be pushed, despite it being a violation of the ABM treaty. We should leave behind the constraints of an ABM Treaty that perpetuates a relationship based on distrust and mutual vulnerability, Bush said on a May 1 speech at the National Defense University here in Washington, D.C., and later remarked, This treaty ignores the fundamental breakthroughs in technology during the last 30 years. It prohibits us from exploring all options for defending against the threats that face us, our allies and other countries. That’s why we should work together to replace this treaty with a new framework that reflects a clear and clean break from the past, and especially from the adversarial legacy of the Cold War.Doing away with the ABM is a major issue that the President spoke on. It is unclear at this point in time if the Senate plans on doing away with the treaty or revising it. We have to remember that the Treaty was signed when Russia was still The Soviet Union, which was a different time, place and people. There has been an argument that the treaty is actually void due to the fact that the Soviet Union no longer is in existence. Also another route that the government is working on to get around the ABM treaty is testing with the THEL, which has been proven to be extremely accurate in defending against short to medium range missiles. The main pro to having a Missile Defense scale is an area of security and national defense.
What is security then? What does it take for a nation to be secure and defended? In the Cold war what it took to be secure was having the most nuclear weapons. The concept of NMD was a concept of defense and of deterrence. Security was having first and second nuclear strike capabilities. It was about being able to defend your nation against attack, and if attacked being able to fight back. The real question is: Has anything changed since then? The security of America is still a top priority. However, now in the dawn of a new era, at a time when the World is supposedly demilitarizing itself is there a conflict of interests at stake when looking at creating an Anti-Missile Defense program. Many Counties are accusing America of starting back up the arms race and hindering the well being of the Global Community. Countries accuse America of being to self-motivated in this issue and acting to unilaterally in this. However acting unilaterally is exactly what the other counties of the world are doing. Right now twenty-six states have ballistic missiles at their disposal, and it is estimated that thirty more countries are working on getting them or enhancing that ones that they have.These countries are acting in there self-interest. Take China for an example. So far they have accused the U.S. of aggressive deterrence. They are purposing that we are being aggressive in our defense. However the very nature of defense is non-aggression. The BGI missiles that the US is using do not carry any explosives on them in any way; their purpose is for defense. The main reason that other actors in the world do not wish for the US to complete the Missile Defense System is because if this happens than there ICBMs would become obsolete. This now no longer is in the military arena, but the political one. If the rest of the Worlds ICBMs were obsolete against the United States they would lose a lot of persuasion that they had before.
It is clear that their many states opposed to the missile defense project, however that cannot deter us from our goal. Throughout this project United States has acted unilaterally, and more than likely will continue to do so. It is truly a West versus the Rest as stated in the Clash of Civilizations. if doing a cost benefit analysis one can see that the gains far outweigh the losses. At this point in time when countries around the world are seeking ballistic missiles we cannot help to think of the security of our nation and our allies. This security can only come with the National Missile Defense Program.
Heritage Foundation Defending America: EndingAmericas Vulnerability to Attack.
George W. Bushs case for a National Missile Defense, May 1 2001
The Economist, What are they really for? July 19, 2001
Foreign Policy, National Missile Defense: Is There Another Way?
Foreign Affairs, The Missile Defense Debate: To Deploy or not to Deploy. Jul/Aug2001, Vol. 80 Issue 4, p97, 13p
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Homepage, http://www.wagingpeace.org/, 2000
World Missile Chart Homepage, http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/resources/ballisticmissilechart.htm,
Missile Proliferation, http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/weapons/weapon.asp?ID=4&weapon=missileproliferation
TO DEPLOY OR NOT TO DEPLOY
THE NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE ISSUE
December 6, 2001
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