Thursday, March 21, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 113


President Bush's missile defense plan is sober, sensible policy

Thomas Asma

Times have changed. The Cold War is over, and mutually assured destruction is no longer the sole lens through which nuclear policy is viewed. 

Nuclear and missile technology proliferation is a reality and rogue states are busy trying to gain such capabilities. 

Combining nuclear payload with an intercontinental ballistic missile yields near parity with the United States in the nuclear sense, because it only takes one nuke
to destroy an American city and coercive power comes with that ability. 

This near parity is achieved because U.S. leaders do not want to see an entire city eliminated, unlike Kim Jong of North Korea for example, who does not care
about the well-being of his citizens. The United States will do anything to stop this situation, and Jong II would not care as long as he was not within the blast

This danger must be eliminated, and the solution is missile defense. President Bush's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty was the obvious choice to better ensure the
safety of the country because we will be able to design, test and eventually implement these systems. It will be costly, and setbacks may occur as with any new
technology, but it has been shown to work. The technology for consistency is possible and human ingenuity is behind it. 

It won't be able to withstand the full force of Russia's nuclear arsenal, but that is not what the system is designed for. The system is designed to neutralize a
deployment of about 20 missiles, an attack that a rogue state would be able to muster. The continuation of the technology in missile defense could eventually
realize former President Reagan's dream of making a Russia-sized arsenal "impotent and obsolete."

The most immediate domestic threat missile defense would negate would be North Korea. This Stalinist country is gaining weapons of mass destruction at the
expense of its people, true to Bush's "axis of evil" characterization. 

The North Koreans have a rocket called the Taepo Dong II, which is an expensive, inaccurate, but constantly improving ICBM. The most recent test launch of this
missile was surprising to our intelligence operations because it reached the critical third stage in its trajectory. It cannot reach our shores now, but it will in at most
a decade. 

Democrats point out that the most probable delivery of a weapon of mass destruction would be a chemical, biological or nuclear device in a suitcase. I don't think
the average man would be able to carry a nuclear device, but let us assume this is true. 

If the Democrats are right, the situation is different than the threat of an ICBM with such a payload. Every real and viable threat must be addressed regardless of
likelihood. The suitcase problem is being fixed by federalizing airport security and closely controlling what enters our borders. 

Now we must deal with ballistic missiles. Democrats also don't like this measure because it takes away money from their various vote-garnering social programs.
But defense is the paramount responsibility of any government and should be funded as such. With the exception of the British, Europe has allowed its defense
and military to fall into neglect. The other countries have seen their efficacy disappear, and are reduced to whining about U.S. hegemony.

Many people don't expect a rogue nation to fire an ICBM at the United States, but it was not expected that an airplane would be flown into the Twin Towers. Keeping
America safe and denying America's enemies' bargaining chips is the goal of a weapons system that is on its way to becoming a reality just in time. 

Asma, a junior finance major, 
can be reached at

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