Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2003 / 28 Teves, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Ostriches | President Bush has announced plans to accelerate deployment of a national ballistic missile defense. North Korea's threat to "destroy the earth" if the United States doesn't do what it wants suggests the reason why.

The president wants to deploy 10 interceptors in Alaska and California in 2004, 10 more in 2005, and 20 on Navy Aegis cruisers. Bush has ordered deployment before the test schedule originally contemplated has been completed. On Dec. 11th, the Missile Defense Agency conducted its 8th interception test, and suffered its third failure. The usual suspects say this proves missile defense won't work.

The task of terminal defense, which this system is designed to provide, is inherently difficult. We are trying to hit "a bullet with a bullet," to intercept a warhead traveling at speeds of more than 25 times the speed of sound with a "kinetic kill vehicle" (KKV). The impact of the collision causes the warhead to disintegrate.

But the tests conducted to date indicate our engineers are up to the task. Neither the failure Dec. 11, nor the two previous failures, were the product of a defect in the basic technology. The two earlier failures were the result of a clogged cooling pipe and a failure to transmit data from a piece of equipment that has worked fine for decades in Minuteman missiles.

Indications are a loose wire was responsible for the most recent mishap. These failures raise some disturbing questions about quality control, and emphasize the need for redundancy. To have a 95 percent chance of a successful intercept, we need to target three interceptors on each incoming warhead. If we use four interceptors, the probability of success rises to 99 percent. But the test failures do not challenge the basic feasibility of the system.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and others who used to argue that missile defense was "impossible" are reduced now to claiming that it is expensive, and that no system can guarantee 100 percent success. We'll spend $6.7 billion on national missile defense this year, which is a lot of money. But wouldn't it cost more to replace San Francisco or Los Angeles? And isn't a 95 percent plus probability of intercept better than zero?

Missile defenses provide us with a means of resisting nuclear blackmail without an immediate resort to war. North Korea has at least two nuclear warheads, and the capacity to produce perhaps 100 more in a year if it is not stopped from reopening the Yongbyon reactor. North Korea also has an ICBM that can reach the West Coast of the United States. Without missile defenses, we'd have to take military action very soon to prevent an unacceptably dangerous nuclear proliferation. That could spark another Korean war. With missile defense, there is time for diplomacy and international economic sanctions to work.

Japan is taking a belated, but urgent interest in missile defense. Fortunately, it is technologically simpler to provide tactical and theater missile defenses than intercontinental defenses. The higher missiles go up into space, the faster their warheads come down. ICBM warheads approach their targets at much faster speeds than do tactical missiles like the Scud.

Sea-based systems provide the opportunity for boost phase intercept, which, comparatively speaking, is child's play. Missiles on the way up are big (the warhead has not separated from the booster), hot (the booster is still burning), and slow (the rocket is fighting gravity to get out of the atmosphere, not being pulled by gravity toward its target). Warheads on the way down are small, cold and fast. A few Aegis cruisers off the North Korean coast effectively could defend both Japan and America. Missile defenses will become even more effective in the near future when airborne lasers - and perhaps spaceborne lasers - come on line.

Missile defense is technologically feasible, economically affordable, and urgently necessary. Yet some say we should forego missile defense because it was banned by a 1972 treaty with the now defunct Soviet Union. But when President Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty last year, there was nary a peep from the Russians.

Those who oppose missile defense call themselves doves. But they behave like ostriches.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Jack Kelly's column by clicking here.

12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly