Russian President Vladamir Putin shook things up on the world stage with his announcement that Russia has a new “invincible” missile on March 1, 2018. Putin claimed that this new missile could defeat any current missile defense system in place. He specifically mentioned the U.S. defense system in the statement.
Whether or not Putin’s claims are true is not fully known. There is some dispute about whether this changes the worldwide “balance of power,” to coin a Cold War term. The United States response so far has been to scoff at the Russian claim and reassure Americans that the U.S. is the premier military force on the planet.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said:
US defense capabilities are and will remain second to none, and now because of the new defense budget of 700 billion dollars, our military will be far stronger than ever. As the president’s nuclear posture review made clear, America is moving forward to modernize our nuclear arsenal and ensure our capabilities are unmatched.
However, this development should cause America’s Defense Department to seriously consider a long-overdue renewed Strategic Defense Initiative or S.D.I. for the 21st century.
The Original S.D.I.
The original S.D.I. was the brainchild of the Reagan administration. It was part of the Cold War campaign to defeat the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union. It was also steadfastly opposed by the Democrats in Congress and the media at the time.
Reagan launched the S.D.I. in March of 1983.
The intent of this program was to develop a sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system in order to prevent missile attacks from other countries, specifically the Soviet Union… the Strategic Defense Initiative was the United States’ response to possible nuclear attacks from afar.
The program was given the derisive nickname of “Star Wars” by the media and the political opponents of S.D.I. There was a bit of truth with that label. The ideas included lasers targeting Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from satellites in space.
“Star Wars” Is Grounded by the Left
Reagan announced the initiative in a speech now known as his “Star Wars” speech.
Reagan announced, “I call upon the scientific community who gave us nuclear weapons to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
The program eventually died over concerns from leftists that it might somehow violate agreements from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks reached during the Carter administration. I have yet to figure out how making weapons obsolete was not helping to limit them.
That and budgetary whining from the Democrats sent the S.D.I. to an early grave. It turns out that America should have listened even more to President Reagan. The nation could be a lot further along in advanced missile defense if Reagan would have been heeded.
However, though the official initiative died, the idea survived. There is a limited missile defense program currently in place. The current idea of missile defense needs a serious upgrade to a complete S.D.I. effort.
The Current Missile Defense Is Inadequate
Putin claimed that this weapon was developed as a response to America’s development of missile defense systems.
He noted that Russia had to develop the new weapons as the U.S. has developed a missile defense system that threatened to undermine the Russian nuclear deterrent and ignored Moscow’s concerns about it.
How is the U.S. doing currently on a missile defense system? It depends on what criteria is used to judge the effort. If we are banking on the system to save America from an all-out Russian missile barrage, well then, not so good.
What does this do to the calculus of mutually assured destruction? In one way, not much. Any attack from Russia today would overwhelm the limited number of U.S. interceptors. The idea that Putin can use missiles to destroy America is nothing new.
However, the reason America can’t defend against such onslaught is the lack of quantity, rather than quality, of missile defense systems in place. There are systems using laser interceptors which can intercept even hypersonic targets. But, they ain’t cheap and there isn’t enough of them.
If these are going to be multiplied to meet a possible Russian attack, and if more advanced systems are going to be developed, a strong commitment is necessary. And that commitment will need to be funded with the priority toward a renewed S.D.I.
S.D.I. Should Become The Primary Defense Priority
The seeming renewal of a credible Russian threat is not the only reason for needing a new S.D.I. There is a nuclear North Korea to deal with as well. There is no reason to believe that Kim Jong Un will negotiate what he has stated is not negotiable. Be assured that North Korea’s nuclear program will continue and there is not much beyond sanctions that can be done.
American defense policy should recognize that North Korea will continue to develop its missile program. The wisest course is to assume they already have the capabilities required and defend accordingly.
The number one priority of the United States Defense Department should be the development and implementation of a comprehensive missile defense system. This goal should be pursued with the same vigor as was shown in the early years of WW2 with America’s weapons manufacturing.
All of the technological expertise, energy, and innovation which can be mustered should be brought to bear on this task. The giants of Silicon Valley would actually have a chance to contribute to the freedom which has allowed them to flourish very profitably. Of course, Defense contracts would also prove profitable for them while they ‘contribute’ to the cause.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. Ecclesiastes 9:18 [ESV]
Godly wisdom can guide toward making “weapons of war” less threatening. Americans would be wise to, as the saying goes, pray as if it all depended on God, and work as if it all depended upon you. Sincere prayer and dependence on God will guide the work and stay the hands of the ungodly who could destroy “much good” which could be accomplished in this regard.
The Holy Bible – English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
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