We live in a global defense environment where technology can outpace judgment and experience. Perhaps in the debate over ground-based midcourse defense missiles (GMD), an anti-ballistic system that can shoot down incoming missiles, we can look to the past, always the best indicator of the future.
Also as recent events in Syria indicate, missile technology and associated defense will continue to play a vital role in military policy and the worldwide projection of power.
For any defense to be viable, it has to be flexible and to a point prescient. It has to anticipate counter systems and be able to read a fluid situation. When the Tommies attacked on the Somme in 1916, they failed to anticipate, after much warning and experience in that war, the matter at hand.
Thus we had the senseless slaughter of the flower of a British generation all because the borrowed and obsolete French elan vital met the German machine gun. “Pip pip and over the top lads” was no match. The folly continued with the Maginot Line as a complacent French government of the 1930s thought that a passive defense could outwit the likes of Erwin Rommel.
The Brits, having learned the lesson, took an active approach to strategic defense and developed a radar system that gave them early warning on air raids. This allowed them, during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, to vector fighters to approaching threats. They didn’t sit idly by waiting to get hit. With that, tenacity, and creative PR, they won the battle and saved the West.
School is out and the logical lesson learned: Active strategic defense works. Passive defense does not. A serial abuser of logic in this regard is , no surprise here, the New York Times.
In a recent editorial they promoted the fallacy that for GMD to work it had to be perfect. Well, no system alone is perfect. But a coordinated force, including the US Navy’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), a sea-based anti-missile system, and associated defensive measures, would only be an effective deterrent against the planners on the other side who will coolly assess their chances and risks before launching a strike.
And that has always been a major point many fail to understand: deterrence.
It’s not only what you have, but also the ability and the will to use it. If the other side thinks it cannot successfully fulfill their mission objectives, which in a launch against the U.S. would be to actually hit a target, then the reward does not overcome the risk. Even if a launch were detected against this nation, the risk for the attacker would be serious destruction of the means of attack and possibly of the source itself. Henry Kissinger postulated some of the same ideas in his 1957 Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy.
Herman Kahn also recognized this in the “escalation ladder”; a concept that understood the leadership psychology behind a launch has as much to do with use as does the weapon. Effective GMD renders the psychological edge in favor of the defender per simple cost benefit analysis.
In fact, rather than destabilizing the strategic equation, as the Times claims, GMD brings potential adversaries to the table. We saw what well played strategic gamesmanship accomplished in Reykjavik in 1987 between President Reagan and Gorbachev. Even without a deal, perhaps the very fact of turning down a Soviet deal that would have cancelled strategic defense research, the stage was set for a simmering down of Cold War tensions and the eventual American victory, yes, victory, in that decades long conflict.
Today we see North Korea talking about a denuclearization. Do we really think that would have transpired if Kim thought he could successfully launch a missile strike against American territory or interests?
Or did he take he take into account President Trump’s December 2017 commitment to a layered domestic missile defense system, and the $249 million in additional funds allocated to the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and act accordingly?
The head of the MDA, Lt. General Samuel Greaves, recently testified before Congress not only as to the need for a new layer of sensors in space and an east coast GMD site, but also to the very real threat a new generation of hypersonic missiles poses to the United States, “The hypersonic threat is real and it’s coming…It’s just a matter of time before [Russia and China] have fully developed that capability.” The Chinese DF-17 hypersonic glide missile, boasted of by Chinese media less than 6 months ago, is a case in point.
Ignoring this and other challenges to our national security, the Times goes on to do what it has done with some relish for forty years. It decries that a functioning GMD could embolden an aggressive U.S. president to rash acts, insinuating once again that the problem is really the nuclear warmongering U.S. leadership, not a saber-rattling cast of geopolitically unkempt international characters who regularly boast of smiting the Great Satan.
Pity the ever-decreasing journalistic sentience of the Gray Lady, really. They’re caught in a never-ending loop of 60s “activists” stumbling their way to their own personal Shambalas.
That their Shambalas were more shambolic than paradise never fazes them.
And so they trod on, blissful in the knowledge that their policy incompetence will play well in the gilded foyers of Gotham.
To some who know better, their traditional blind eye to strategic defense and their habit of not wanting to upset American adversaries puts the Times in the unenviable position of the Germans in the summer of 1940.
Lack of insight would lead them to losing the battle, yet again.
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