July 26, 2004

Missile Shield begins quietly

I didn't see a lot of hoopla over this, which is probably intentional. Last week, the first interceptor missile of our National Missile Shield was installed at Fort Greely in Alaska.

I believe in defense, and I certainly recognize the inherent difficulties in performing the mission that these interceptors have. All complex systems have growing pains, and the calls for perfection before deployment are silly and miss a key function that is already in effect: deterrence. The shield doesn't have to work all that well in reality (although if anyone can make it happen, it's the US), because as long as the other guy thinks it might, then that's a plus for our side right there. The best deterrence is never used. If it is, then it failed in its primary mission.

The footprint of these sites in the wilderness is amazingly small, and the complaining and dire warnings come from the enviros who were also wrong about the mass extinctions that would be caused by the pipeline. These are the same folks who wouldn't let Californians clear brush out of wooded areas. Mother Nature said thanks for the ready-made tinder and kindling, didn't she? They also complain about potential disaster when an accident occurs at one of these silo's. How often do you hear about missile accidents in the US? I can think of two in the last 40 years, which is a damn good percentage. Neither of those accidents resulted in widespread environmental damage.

Now it seems that Canada's military is thinking that maybe they should get under the umbrella. From an editorial in the Montreal Gazette:

Few Canadians know that the NORAD deputy commander in chief at the Colorado headquarters, by treaty agreement, is a Canadian. This is not tokenism: we do have a presence and a say in the design and administration of the defence of North America. We shall be no better off, and arguably worse off, if we relinquish our role just because continental defence is evolving as time goes by.

And in Europe, the Czechs and Poles are enthusiatically embracing the shield.
As well as radar sites, the Poles say they want to host a missile interceptor site. Such a site in Poland would be the first outside America and the only one in Europe.

In the Czech Republic, too, the proposed radar site, extending to 100 square kilometres, could be declared extra-territorial and a sovereign US base.

Japan already wants in, as does South Korea, England and Australia.

If they're needed for real, then I hope they work well. I fervently hope that we never have to find out how well they work, and to those who say we're escalating tensions by defending ourselves, well, I believe in self-defense, whereas you believe in trusting to the altruism of others. You're living in dreamland, because we already know that the world is full of bad guys who would love nothing more than to sucker-punch the US.

As for the argument that we should be worried more about rental trucks/container ships/boxcars/your-scary-potentiality-here, my answer is yes and no. We should be worried about those things, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the historic threats. There are many countries out there who possess missiles capable of hitting North America. There are more countries who are close to obtaining that ability. We made the mistake of being too focused on the "big" threats and watched 3000 people die. Let's not make the same mistake and focus too much on the unconventional threats, because ignoring the "big" threats is just as big a mistake.

China has been whining about the shield for quite a while now. Good. If they're forced to expend resources on ways to limit it's impact on their military, then those are resources that they can't use somewhere else on weapons of their choice. We've taken that much initiative away from them and they're reacting to us instead of the other way around.

It's a little thing, but yeah, we are a bit safer for that one missile in Alaska.

Posted by Ted at July 26, 2004 06:17 AM
Category: Military

We Longhorns don't have an assload of Nobel Prize Lauereates, but we do have physicist Steven Weinberg.


Safer or not, I'm beginning to feel more vicariously in debt.

Posted by: norbizness at July 26, 2004 04:20 PM

:D Welcome to big government, where *everybody* plays and *everybody*, uh, wins?

Posted by: Ted at July 27, 2004 06:19 AM
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