Missile Defense: The Epitome of “America First”

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 November 21, 2017|
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In the wake of President Trump’s trip to Asia—with stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines—Americans should thank him for remaining true to his America First principles. He gave speech after speech in which he asserted, sometimes to skeptical audiences, that the age in which U.S. leaders would prize multilateral trade deals over the protection of American jobs and economic interests is over. He also made it clear that the United States will act decisively, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the world with its missiles and nuclear weapons.

Needless to say, many on the Left were happy to undermine Trump’s credibility as commander-in-chief while he was away, so the international media was beating the drum of fake news and anti-Trump narratives just as CNN and MSNBC do here at home.

The president, however, was unmoved. He stood tall and proud on the international stage, and already his tough line is bearing fruit: China has announced that it will ease restrictions on foreign investments in financial firms, and it will make it easier for U.S. auto manufacturers like Tesla to do business there. China knows that Trump is not to be trifled with.

By far the biggest and most inscrutable challenge that America faces in Asia, though, is North Korea. There are signs that the Chinese increasingly may be willing to put pressure on the North Koreans to rein in their nuclear and missile programs, and North Korea’s relative quietude during Trump’s visit to the region is a positive sign. But the diplomatic dance over North Korean nukes involving the United States, both Koreas, Japan, Russia, and China will last, in all likelihood, for years. Only a massive military strike against North Korean nuclear and missile facilities, as well as their air defenses, artillery installations, and cyber warfare sites, could forestall the delicate diplomacy which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is currently pursuing, and President Trump seems disinclined to use force until all other options are exhausted.

For this reason, it is now more important than ever that we enhance our defenses against nuclear or EMP attacks emanating from North Korea. This is true not just because the casualties and damage caused by such attacks would be catastrophic, but also due to the fact that a robust and credible missile defense capability will strengthen President Trump’s hand as he tries to convince rogue regimes like the one in North Korea that threatening the America with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons is a waste of time.

Simply put, if North Korea’s long-range missiles can’t reach the United States, because our ability to intercept them is proven and reliable, then there is no reason why an impoverished regime should build them in the first place.

Luckily, our country has a panoply of missile defense technologies in place. Some are deployed in South Korea, Japan, and on U.S. Navy vessels in the vicinity. These systems afford our allies considerable protection, but only the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system (“GMD” for short) based in Alaska and California protects the homeland from long-range ballistic missiles. The good news is GMD has achieved a high rate of effectiveness in testing since 1999, and a continuous process of technical enhancement makes it stronger and stronger, year after year.

The bad news, however, is that funding for the system was repeatedly cut under President Obama, and right now the system is oriented towards protecting the United States from a nuclear missile attack coming from the west—by contrast, an attack that came over the North Pole or from the east would be difficult to parry.

When President Trump defends our national interests on the international stage, his credibility is greatly enhanced by the fact that he wields the strongest sword imaginable: the might of the U.S. armed forces. The ability of the United States to defeat any foe matters little, however, when that foe is potentially deranged, and wants only to inflict maximum harm on the American people. A comprehensive and expanded GMD system, therefore, offers us the opportunity to make the homeland relatively invulnerable to such threats from rogue regimes. An investment, in the expansion of our GMD capabilities and in research and development to improve those capabilities, would be one of the best steps we could take to assuring the safety of the American people, and proving the futility of Kim Jong-Un’s vicious threats.

As we celebrate President Trump’s resolute performance in Asia, let us not forget that he and his national security team need the tools to deter any and all foreign threats. In GMD, we have one of the best tools imaginable—the ability to shoot down incoming nuclear missiles. We should strengthen this system where necessary, but above all we should test it and demonstrate its awesome power frequently. By this means, Kim Jong-Un may someday be compelled to recognize that his dream of obliterating an American city with nuclear fire is just that—a dream, or rather a nightmare, that will never, ever come true.


About the Author:

Nicholas L. Waddy
Nicholas L. Waddy, an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred, blogs at www.waddyisright.com.


  1. Chris706 November 27, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I am all for a robust missile defense system. I am sure Trump is, as well.

    OTOH, flaunting it may not be good tactics. TR, the president Trump is most often compared to, said “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Trump speaking softly may sound like an oxymoron, but he does excel at getting folks to expose themselves.

    If he could get the system to be quietly robust, and then goad one of these rogue states into precipitous action, they would be left open to catastrophic repercussions that would go much further in persuading others not to follow their example than any other sort of defensive demonstration.

    Painful lessons are the most easily remembered.

    • TooTall7 November 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Where-as I don’t wholly agree I nevertheless recognize a point made.

  2. Ever the skeptic November 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Reaction around the world to Trump: “Oh, shit. An American politician not interested in lining his own pockets instead of putting American interests first. WTF are we going to do now?”

    • Pawel66 November 27, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Yep…This includes reaction from Congress: This means that now we need to SERVE???

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