Jack Hitt recently wrote an amazing story on the failures of missile defense for Rolling Stone. The tag-line of the article says it all: “The Shield Star Wars began as a Reagan-era fantasy. Under Bush, it is now the most expensive weapons system in the history of man. It has never been successfully tested. It will never be finished. And it is completely unnecessary.”
Included below are a few exceptional paragraphs:
The geopolitics of missile defense are every bit as troublesome as the science. Even the Missile Defense Agency concedes that the shield -- originally envisioned as a defense against a rival superpower -- is no longer of any use against
Chinaor . A colorful brochure produced by the agency to make the case for expansion of the shield into Europe confesses that " Russia Russia's large strategic offensive force could overwhelm the system's limited number of deployed interceptors." Even in a direct, one-on-one engagement, the brochure concedes, " U.S. U.S.interceptors in central Europe would not be capable of intercepting Russian ICBMs launched at the ." United States
Having abandoned its superpower mission, the shield has morphed under Donald Rumsfeld into an all-purpose defense for the Age of Terrorism. For the last few years, the Bush administration has promoted the shield as protection against rogue states like
North Koreaand . But the State Department recently reached a diplomatic agreement with North Korea that would eliminate its nuclear weapons program, and Iran is years away from developing nuclear capabilities. So whose warheads will the shield protect us from? In August, during a lecture at a missile defense convention, one proponent of the system suggested the possibility of a new ballistic threat from a country that currently possesses no missiles: Iran . Venezuela
focuses on hypothetical threats, other nations are taking real-world actions in direct response to missile defense. Last year, America demonstrated its offensive capacity by "painting" one of our satellites with a laser -- the outer-space equivalent of sighting it with a rifle scope -- and earlier this year, the Chinese military demonstrated its might by blowing one of its own satellites out of the sky. The shield has also soured China America's relations with Russia, which views our plans to install silos for interceptors in central Europeas the equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis. In response, Vladimir Putin has threatened to aim a new generation of missiles directly at the heart of Europe, and in July he withdrew from a treaty crafted by President George H.W. Bush that limits the number of troops and tanks Russiacan position close to Europe.
This, to date, is the only real accomplishment of missile defense: The shield has effectively killed old arms-control treaties and ended deterrence. The arms race is back, only this time it's multilateral.
Chinahas officially chest-butted us in space, and Russiaintends to aim missiles at Europewhile massing troops at the borders of our allies. , in return, gets the comfort of the shield. America
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