Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why Missile Defense?

Donald Rumsfeld is happy with the success of the most recent test of the missile defense system as, I must admit, am I. If we are going to build such a system, I am delighted that the thing seems to work. But against what?

I cannot say that I am actually opposed to the system. I am uncertain, actually. But I am mistrustful of the reasons why it is being built.

Mr. Rumsfeld has not exactly dazzled me with his strategic planning since his centerpiece (the war in Iraq) has not worked out very well, so I am not sold on the necessity of a missile defense merely because he says so. His arguments have not been all that convincing.

Mr. Rumsfeld says that North Korea is testing intercontinental missiles and there is no denying that. But as I recall their long range ones blew up on the launch pad and the short range ones made it all the way to the Sea of Japan which is, what, 100 miles or so away.

I believe we should consider the North Korea as a very serious threat in terms of selling nuclear technology and material to rogue states, and perhaps as a threat to South Korea and even Japan. But how serious, really, is the threat of them actually reaching us with a missile?

Mr. Rumsfeld cited Hezbollah (to use one of its dozens of spellings) launching thousands of rockets at Israel.

He is really reaching on this one. Those rockets have a range of a few hundred miles and are unguided. They are also something less that “citybuster” in size. They are certainly a threat to Israel, and I’m not belittling the Israelis who were injured and killed by them. But these rockets are absolutely no threat to us and to cite them as a reason for a multi-billion-dollar missile defense system is sheer hyperbole.

He then went on to cite Iran and its engagement in nuclear research and its desire to obtain nuclear weapons.

The whole Iran issue has been clouded by so much bombast that I really don’t know what to believe. What I do know is that the rhetoric being used now is so similar to that used to justify invading Iraq, to the extent of identical phrases and even whole sentences being reiterated, that it makes me shudder. But none of it points to them being able to have the technology to launch a missile that could reach the United States, and even Mr. Rumsfeld doesn’t come right out and claim that.

So it seems to me that Iran as a reason for this multi-billion-dollar missile defense system is shaky at best.

That leaves Al Queda, Pakistani rebels, or the Iraqi insurgents buying intercontinental ballistic missile technology from someone who has it, and that argument is so spurious that I won’t dignify it with rebuttal.

The final argument is, of course, the profits that accrue to the corporations who are building the system. Those corporations provide campaign contributions to Mr. Rumsfeld’s friends in high office and there we have, I suspect, the biggest reason why this system is being built.

Perhaps I have just unreasonably lost the ability to trust my government.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I have just unreasonably lost the ability to trust my government.

    I would hardly call that "unreasonable" considering the actions and policies of the current occupant and his sycophant colleagues.