Thirty years ago on March 23, 1983 President Ronald Reagan stunned the world with a dramatic vision for a new kind of defense that would largely eliminate the threat of nuclear war. He was decades ahead of his time but perhaps he foresaw a day when rogue states like Iran and North Korea would threaten the peace with the advance of missile technology.
Until Reagan spoke the only plan to prevent nuclear catastrophe was to threaten nuclear catastrophe if the other side dared to strike first. The plan was known as Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD and liberals hated it. They fretted over the prospect of a nuclear winter and stories of school children fearing death in a nuclear attack were common. The irony is that when Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative which would make nuclear war obsolete the anti-nuclear peaceniks attacked Reagan. It was "Star Wars" and would lead to a weapons race in space. None of that happened of course but then, liberal scare stories are always just that, stories!
Over the decades there has been slow and steady progress on achieving Reagan's goals. During the Bush years the first deployments of systems designed to intercept incoming missiles (a bullet to hit a bullet) were deployed. Then along came Obama and missile defense slowed to a crawl. It's no surprise that a President who once said “I don’t agree with a missile defense system,” ended up slashing budgets that technology. Also, Obama undid difficult negotiations with our European allies who had agreed to host missile defense in their countries.
That was before North Korea began it's latest round of nuclear and missile tests combined with bellicose propaganda about waging a nuclear attack on the United States. So much for Obama's "can't we all get along" diplomacy. Now, the Obama Administration has been forced to restore some advanced missile interceptor funding but only in Alaska to defend the U.S. Apparently, doing so in Europe for our allies would upset the Russians who still wish to intimidate their neighbors. Did we learn nothing in Munich in 1939?
Had Bush's original deployment plan been followed it's possible that both Iran and North Korea would have realized their effort to threaten others was futile! Russia might also have been kept on the leash. The world would be a much more peaceful place had U.S. strength been demonstrated instead of weakness.
As the technology of missile defense progresses, it's looking as if the best long term solution will be with lasers instead of more costly interceptors. Lasers are more expensive to develop but much cheaper to deploy and are less likely to be overwhelmed by an enemy using multiple warheads or dummy decoys. The Daily Mail has an excellent article describing this development. Last fall, a Navy chief revealed that we are only two years away from a workable system. That is, if Obama will permit it to be built.
For more reading on this important topic I recommend an article by Larry Bell in Forbes. Also, Fox and Orman at MissileThreat.com.