by Rod D. Martin
August 14, 2000

Much has been said about last week’s decision by the Clinton Administration to (yet again) put off deployment of a missile defense.

Perhaps the most pertinent comment is the one reprinted below:

“. . . The clearest case of the failure of the present Administration to provide for the common defense is its stubborn refusal to build any anti-missile system which can protect America from a [Russian] nuclear attack.

“For three years, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have unanimously and urgently recommended the building of an anti-missile system. For at least three years, the [Russians] have been deploying their own anti-missile defense. Yet the [Administration] gagged the Joint Chiefs and refused to permit the United States to erect any defenses against a missile attack. Finally, in the face of Congressional demands for an anti-missile system, [the Secretary of Defense] reluctantly agreed. . . to make a start on a ‘thin’ anti-missile system [designed to] protect us only against Red China. . . .

“The ‘thin’ anti-missile is not what the Joint Chiefs recommended; they believe we must have a full anti-missile system to protect America from a [Russian] nuclear attack today.”

The surprising thing about this little discourse is that it wasn’t written by Joe Sobran or George Will. In fact, it wasn’t written this year, or even during the Reagan Administration.

This comes from Rear Admiral Chester Ward and Phyllis Schlafly, writing about Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert McNamara, all the way back in 1968.

Yes, Virginia, the ABM (or these days, NMD, for National Missile Defense) debate has been going on since the Sixties, and just as surely as the arguments of the Left haven’t changed, your defenselessness hasn’t either.

This will come as a shock to some readers: over 70% of all Americans report in poll after poll that they believe Ronald Reagan deployed what the Left then called “Star Wars.” But alas, while the Congressional Democrats of the 1960s demanded deployment, the Democrats of the 1980s were made of different stuff, and Reagan was blocked at every turn. Not one missile, not one “ray-gun”, defends even one American citizen today.

But fear not: Bill Clinton has promised – just like Johnson and McNamara before him – to provide a “thin” missile defense, maybe not even enough to protect against Red China (as in 1968), but surely enough to take care of North Korea. Maybe. Someday.

Just not right now.

The primary reason given for this thirty-five year foot-dragging is that we supposedly don’t have the technology yet. You may have heard of – or even seen on the news – several failed NMD tests to “prove” this.

Yet the Joint Chiefs believed they could deploy an almost impenetrable missile shield in 1965.

How can this be? The answer astounds: Bill Clinton has personally chosen the least effective anti-missile technology imaginable as “the only way to go.” His “anti-missiles” – the ones you’ve seen on TV – don’t even carry an explosive. They are quite literally “a bullet hitting a bullet,” or trying to.

In 1965, our military leaders understood very well that, if you want to blow something up, it’s a reasonably good idea to use a bomb. Ronald Reagan understood this too.

But today, Bill Clinton understands just this: the argument that missile defenses “won’t work” is wearing thin, and he better use whatever means he can to keep people believing the liberal line.

Why would he lie about this? Why would our President go so far out of his way to leave precious little girls across this country vulnerable to the nuclear blackmail (or worse) of people like Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Li Peng, or some crazy (or Communist) successor to Mr. Putin?

Who knows? But the stakes grow by the day. The truth is that the Johnson/McNamara policy of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (or “MAD”, which it certainly was) was always immoral and is today obsolete. It was always evil to hold civilian populations hostage rather than defend them. Today, facing threats from an ever-growing menagerie of unstable nuclear-, biological- and chemical-armed tyrants, it makes no sense even on the Left’s own terms.

America deserves better. We need a robust, multi-layered defense (ground, sea, air and space) against ballistic and cruise missiles, no matter where they come from or how many are launched. What’s more, some of this system should be mobile, capable of defending American and allied forces abroad as well whole threatened nations (India, Pakistan, Japan, Israel, etc.) when necessary.

Such a system might never be perfect: nothing man-made is. But no nation could ever attack America with any reasonable assurance of success or chance of victory; and the American people would have every reasonable hope of survival, a hope unconstitutionally denied to them now for decades. This alone is enough reason to vote Republican this fall.