Missile Defense Objections

June 5, 2000

President Clinton's trip to Russia and historic meeting with Vladimir Putin once again highlights the important issue of missile defense. Last year President Clinton signed the Missile Defense Act of 1999 into law and thus implied that the U.S. would deploy an effective limited missile defense system.

But since the signing of the bill, the president has set various conditions that would have to be considered before he would develop and deploy such a system. During his trip to Europe and Russia, the president and the media once again raised these preconditions.

First, the nuclear threat must be confirmed. Opponents of an American missile defense system argue that the threat from "rogue states" is overblown. Some even argue that no "rogue states" even exist. Consider North Korea, a country run by a man who is a certifiable lunatic. Is this not a legitimate threat? Add communist China along with the nuclear potential of Iraq (as documented in the recent book Brighter than the Baghdad Sun). Aren't these countries and their leaders legitimate nuclear threats to national security?

Second, the technology must prove feasible. Here the opponents argue that anti-missile systems are untested and unreliable. Of course, if we refuse to develop and deploy such systems they will continue to remain untested and unreliable.

Third, the technology must be affordable. Opponents point to the Congressional Budget Office estimate that a ground-based system will cost up to $60 billion. Even though most believe that such an estimate is unreasonably high, compare it to the cost of rebuilding an American city.

More to the point, there are other ways to provide a missile defense using a modified AEGIS fleet air defense system from ships. The Heritage Foundation estimates that cost at about $3 billion (spent over the next five years). The threat is real and the technology works and is affordable. It's time to build a missile defense system now.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.