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Jewish World Review June 18, 2001 / 28 Sivan, 5761

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Some flawed arguments against SDI -- THERE was a method to the left's madness in tagging Ronald Reagan's proposed nuclear missile-defense shield as "Star Wars." It effectively painted his vision for a land-, sea- and space-based missile-defense infrastructure as offensive in nature.

You will note that the left is still using that image in furtherance of its ardent opposition to SDI. The characterization of a missile "defense" as "offensive" was misleading then, and it is misleading now.

The left's favorite argument against SDI today is that if the United States makes itself less vulnerable to nuclear attack, other nations will become anxious and begin to proliferate their own nuclear arsenals, and, voila, we're right back into an inexorable arms race.

Truth be known, most of the left harbors such a visceral distrust for this capitalist giant that they actually don't believe the United States should even aspire to nuclear invulnerability. They can't seem to grasp the principle of peace through strength.

Since there's no way of getting through to them with this concept, let me try another one. If the left's primary argument against SDI is that it will re-ignite an arms race, its unstated premise is that other nations are not currently engaged in nuclear proliferation. That's tragically laughable.

Look at the main nations from whom the United States has a reasonable basis to fear nuclear mischief in the future: China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and, yes, still Russia. Do you believe any of these nations needs an incentive to develop their nuclear forces?

Tyrannical nations need no excuse to act badly – misbehavior flows from their tyrannical nature. Did the Red Chinese steal our nuclear secrets because we were developing SDI? Of course not – because we weren't developing it. China already has 30 nuclear-armed ICBMs, almost half of which are aimed at U.S. cities – and they're developing more at a feverish pace.

Has Saddam Hussein stopped developing weapons of mass destruction, even though his nation has been persistently pummeled and the United Nations has ordered him to stop? A bipartisan commission recently concluded that Saddam is undeterred, and continues to develop short, medium and long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear, chemical and biological warheads.

Brian Kennedy of the Ashbrook Center reports some chilling information about North Korea. A North Korean defector, Col. Choi Ju-hwai, explained at a 1997 U.S. Senate hearing that the main reason North Korea is developing nuclear missiles is that if a future Korean War breaks out, the North's primary target will be the United States. And, said the colonel, the "ultimate goal for the development of North Korean missiles is to reach the mainland of the United States." Surely, even the most extreme of pacifists wouldn't contend that Bush's plan to develop SDI is the cause of North Korea's belligerent attitude toward the United States.

The left uses other arguments to block SDI, which are equally illogical. The main threat we face from nuclear weapons, they say, is from terrorist suitcase bombs. But the existence of an additional type of nuclear threat does not negate the threat of nuclear missiles. Both threats are real and must be dealt with separately.

SDI opponents are also fond of saying that missile defense is technologically impossible. In addition to being wrong, this argument is enormously inconsistent with their primary argument above, i.e., that it will start a new arms race. If it doesn't work, it won't make any other nations nervous.

The argument that SDI would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty with the Soviet Union is equally flawed. The Soviet Union no longer exists, which renders the treaty a nullity. Beyond that, the Soviets began violating the treaty the second they entered into it. A basic tenet of contract law is that one party's breach excuses the other party's performance (compliance). But even if the treaty were still in effect, the United States has the right to withdraw from it upon six months notice, if we declare that it is in our supreme interest to do so.

While Democrats are momentarily interested in enforcing the law for a change, they should be reminded that President Clinton signed into law the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, which made it official U.S. policy to develop SDI as soon as "technologically possible." Though Clinton doubtlessly signed the bill with a wink and a nod, it remains the law of the land.

The objections to SDI are largely specious. It's morally imperative that we proceed post haste, while we're still in a position to do so.

David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney apracticing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposé about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.