for missile defense
How ridiculous it would be to
start leaving the front door unlocked just because burglars
had recently found it easier to enter through the back window.
When it comes to national defense, America will regret leaving
its front door wide open.
Our military's preparation and
emphasis on modern warfare proved insufficient in preventing
last months terrorist attacks. Appropriately, Congress reacted
by devoting greater resources to preventing future acts of
terrorism and compensating for certain weaknesses. But the
needs for modern defenses have not diminished. In fact, they
have only become more acute.
The United States needs to
broaden its response to the terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center and Pentagon. It is not enough to focus on
stopping terrorist attacks using commercial airlines, or the
buildup of air power in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, or
covert operations in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden. The
United States must not neglect building a defense against
ballistic missiles and the possibility of terrorists making an
unauthorized launch of ballistic missiles. Instead of the loss
of 6,000 lives, the United States could lose 6 million.
Even the accidental launch of
ballistic missiles is possible, for example, from Russian
nuclear-missile-carrying submarines where the command and
control of nuclear missiles is much less secure than for U.S.
ballistic missile submarines. Russian land-based or
road-mobile ICBMs are also less secure than American weapon
systems and could similarly be taken over by terrorists and
launched. Nor are accidents unthinkable. As recently as
January, 1995, a Norwegian sounding rocket activated Boris
Yeltsin's portable nuclear command briefcase for initiating a
retaliatory missile strike against the United States.
In the early 1990s, the United
States recognized the threat of an accidental or unauthorized
(terrorist) launch of ballistic missiles in President Bush's
plan for building a ballistic missile defense called Global
Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS). To protect the
United States from accidental or terrorist launches, or rogue
nations like North Korea, Mr. Bush proposed building a
space-based defense including high-energy lasers and Brilliant
Pebbles interceptors. Unfortunately, Congress underfunded the
program, and then-President Clinton discontinued it.
The United States faces serious
international implications affecting its security. On Sept.
11, the same day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon, China signed a memorandum of understanding to
provide economic and technical aid to the Taliban. For two
years, Chinese companies have assisted the Taliban in its
efforts to improve its telephone system in Kabul.
Unfortunately, the Congress is
considering using the war on terrorism as an excuse to cut its
ballistic missile defense programs, especially space-based
defenses, evidently unaware of how China has threatened it
with long-range missiles and is engaged in an aggressive arms
buildup. China's ambitious buildup includes its DF-31 ICBM and
JL-2 SLBM. China's road-mobile DF-31, which has been
flight-tested and forms part of its Long Wall Project aimed at
the United States, its forces, and allies particularly in the
The war on terrorism extends to
Iraq, which has helped equip Osama bin Laden with chemical
weapons. It extends to the war on drugs as drugs are used to
finance terrorism. Much of the world's supply of heroin comes
from Afghanistan. The war on terrorism also extends to U.S.
relations with other countries and alliances, and the
alliances China is forming to increase its international
influence and control.
Beneath the war on terrorism is
a reluctance in the United States to end its vulnerability to
ballistic missiles, an unwillingness to confront their use by
terrorists or in acts of war by countries such as China, Iran,
Iraq, Libya, North Korea and others. Most importantly, the
Congress, in passing the $343 billion House defense
authorization bill, cut its space-based ballistic missile
defense programs by $400 million, which will continue to leave
millions of Americans vulnerable to destruction by ballistic
missiles and nuclear weapons.
If the United States is to
succeed in its war against terrorism, it must act decisively
against bin Laden, confiscate his nuclear devices and destroy
his chemical weapons. At the same time America must guard
itself against ballistic missiles, realizing that ballistic
missiles can be hijacked by terrorists. It must rebuild its
military strength and intelligence. It must build the best
ballistic missile defense it can by accelerating its Navy
Theater Wide program, and emphasizing space-based defenses,
including high-energy lasers, Brilliant Pebbles interceptors,
and particle beams.
Thriving democracy, abundant
liberty and glorious freedom are the legacy of our republic.
These profound American qualities continue to be the envy of
the world and the hope for humanity. They only exist today
because of God's blessings and America's commitment to a
robust and proficient defensive capability. Flinging wide open
America's front door is an invitation to an even greater, and
more cataclysmic frontal attack upon our liberty.
Rep. Bob Schaffer is a Colorado Republican.