Dear Members and Friends,
The critical piece on the U.S. missile defense system published in Foreign Policy magazine following the successful missile intercept on June 22 is centered on an outdated Cold War belief in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Driven by the altruism of strategic nuclear arms reduction, the article contends that U.S. missile defenses destabilize strategic balance, and de-incentivizes strategic nuclear arms control.
After initially characterizing the current missile defense system as being a deeply flawed prototype technology, the article reverses its position, and drives a conclusion that both China and Russia have enough confidence in the "deeply flawed" U.S. missile defense capability to destabilize U.S. efforts to reduce their strategic nuclear force levels. This reasoning brings forward the ulterior motive of the author in encouraging U.S. concessions on its national security with the fading hope of bringing about a new round of strategic arms control with an increasingly disengaged and bellicose Russia.
Regardless of what U.S.-based critics think of our nation's missile defense system, it is the calculus of adversarial nations that may be debating investments in nuclear and ballistic missile technology to threaten the United States that determines its true value. There was no gray area in the world with missile defense on June 22. Both friends and enemies of the United States watched the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse system successfully intercept a ballistic missile target high in space with complex countermeasures and decoys. That demonstration alone, even with all the challenges throughout the system's development, forever changed the calculus of those nations looking to threaten the United States with investments in ballistic missile technology, giving them a clear reason to doubt their ability to do so.
Should the United States choose to forgo a missile defense system and remain dependent on the concept of MAD for its security, any country with nuclear ballistic missiles, including North Korea and potentially Iran, would have a status tantamount to that of a super power. If left undefended, The United States could soon find itself under nuclear threat against these adversaries, and effectively deterred from taking action to keep their dangerous and destabilizing regional agendas in check.
Over 10 years ago, the United States made the choice not to live in MADness, and withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, so it could be free to build both regional and strategic missile defense capabilities. Since then, the United States along with over 20 other nations have deployed these non-lethal defensive systems all over the world, reinforcing stability, security and peace.
For the arms control advocates who warned that scuttling the ABM Treaty would ignite a new strategic arms race between the United States, Russia and China, history has decisively proven them wrong. In fact, the United States' missile defense capability has likely helped enable strategic arms control reduction between Russia and the United States by reducing concern of an accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear ballistic missiles by either country.
Missile defense critics seem over zealously concerned with the small expansion from 30 to 44 non-nuclear interceptors led by President Obama, which in their minds would create strategic instability with Russia. These critics ignore that Russia has close to 100 nuclear-tipped fragmentation missile defense interceptors defending Moscow. These strategic defenses give Russia over two-thirds more numbers and missile defense capability than the United States.
The driving factor behind this disparity was the failed policy of "reset" with Russia in 2008, that included self-imposed reduction by the United States in missile defense interceptors, termination of strategic missile defense programs, a lack of testing and decreased funding of the U.S. homeland missile defenses over the past 6 years to appease Russia. There is a direct link between the trouble the U.S. missile defense system has faced, and pursuing this MADness with the Russia. The U.S. chose to appease Russia rather than doing the due diligence of modernizing, testing and fixing the system.
In light of the world the U.S. now finds itself, only a MADman would believe that it is better to put the security of over 300 million people in the hands leaders like Kim Jong Un and the Ayatollah Khamenei than to adequately invest in the only system the United States has in place to protect its population from ballistic missile attack.
Only a MADman would think that North Korea or Iran have overlooked the 65 successful hit-to-kill intercept tests over past 15 years and have not taken the progress and modifications demonstrated in the June 22 intercept test into account to determine their strategic calculus on their ballistic missile programs.
Only a MADman would want to cancel the construction of a new missile defense site on the East coast, leaving Washington D.C. and major East coast cities with less protection from long-range ballistic missiles than the rest of the country currently receives from the interceptors in Alaska and California.
Only a MADman would judge the reliability of the U.S. missile defense system based on percentages of intercepts over 10 years in unrealistic test scenarios. In these tests, just one interceptor is fired against a single target with countermeasures and decoys that are not existent in current ballistic missile threats to the United States, when realistically multiple interceptors would be fired at a single target which today would most likely not be equipped with decoys or countermeasures.
Only a MADman would still believe having no defense is the best defense.