In today's Times, Shield Was Set to Stop Missile, Bush Says, we learn about how the nation's
missile defense shield was "set" to stop the nefarious long-range North Korean missile launched a couple of days ago. The president assured the American people when he told us "I think we had a reasonable chance of shooting it down." Of course, as with most things Bush has anything to say about, he's misinformed or was deliberately misinforming us - I go for the latter myself.
The missile defense shield in question hasn't adequately tested per the DoD requirements for testing major defense programs, and of what testing there has been the system has consistently not performed up to expectations. So the fact is that there's no reasonable certainty that it can hit anything, much less a North Korean missile. Of course the president covered himself on the
matter of the particulars by saying that there's a "reasonable chance of shooting it down" - one person's "reasonable" is often times another person's "you're out of your mind if you think that's going to work"; my reading of our president is that something's reasonable so long as it in some way, regardless of however statistically unlikely it might otherwise be, supports something he
wants or at least thinks he wants.
Let's first consider the circumstances: North Korea has yet to show that it has mastered the technology to launch a long range missile. The fact that you have a missile doesn't mean you have the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon (no small feat in itself) that you can then stick on top of the missile you want to lob it with. So we were set to intercept a threat that, on
the whole in this case, didn't really exist. But we were ready to intercept that nonexistent threat, yes we were, and we wanted to be sure you knew that.
"The president said the missile tests ordered by North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, were another example of why "we need a ballistic-missile system.""
Now this is ridiculous, but it seems to play well in Peoria. We tracked that missile from the second it was being fueled, and we had a radar beam up its tail the second it was launched and we followed the thing until it broke into pieces shortly after launching. Now I'm still trying to fathom the logic, and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on trying to make something like this work, that has North Korea, admittedly a bit out there on the fringe when it comes to logic and reasonableness, sending a missile our way when we're watching the thing from the second it makes its way to the launch pad. How long would it be after a launch with an actual nuclear weapon on board before Kim Jong Il would find himself the totalitarian dictator of a cinder of a country, assuming he survived the multiple thermonuclear warheads this nation would launch against him and his domain? In the old Cold War days mutual assured destruction, MAD, worked well enough with the Soviets because they realized, as did we, that resorting to nuclear weapons pretty much assured that the other's country would be destroyed. Why some version of this doesn't work with North Korea escapes me, though the argument seems to go that we should never have to suffer a nuclear detonation on our soil before we destroy the other guy. Ok, I can see the logic to that, which is why the other guy is more likely than not going to deliver his nukes in a way that obscures where they came from, not using a rocket that can be possibly intercepted.
Bush's timing on this was particularly propitious inasmuch as the DoD is looking for some $9.3 billion dollars for missile defense for the coming fiscal year. Yep, let's dump more good money after bad, on a defense system that doesn't defend us from a whole lot, and which sucks up money that could be better used in other places if only we had the imagination and values to put it there.