Forum: Shield stops new threats

The attacks of Sept. 11 taught us that those who hate the United States will stop at nothing to destroy our nation and take the lives of our citizens. Yet, despite this, even as the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were still smoldering, many Democrats renewed their opposition to strategic missile defense.

“Eventually there will come a realization that these planes were missiles that a defense could not defend against,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

That argument is tantamount to saying that the U.S. should not pursue anti-terrorism measures because they would defend against missiles. These are two different, although not completely unrelated, threats to our national security, and we must defend against both. While the threats today consist of hijacking commercial airliners and letters laced with anthrax, the future brings new threats for which our nation must be prepared.

There is no way to know if President George W. Bush’s missile defense shield, as it exists in its land- and sea-based forms, will be effective. Recent tests, however, have been very encouraging, and the government should continue testing to determine the viability of the system.

Some have suggested that pursuing a missile defense shield and discarding the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would imperil the anti-terrorism coalition that has been assembled in recent weeks. Before Bush visited China this weekend, he was asked about that very question.

In response he called the ABM treaty outmoded and a product of a different era. Bush said the treaty hinders the United States from confronting future terrorist threats and should be discarded. Following the meeting in Shanghai, Putin told reporters he was willing to discuss the ABM treaty.

Bush made it clear to China and Russia that the shield is not to defend against those powers, but as Mike Allen wrote in The Washington Post Sept. 2, “to offer protection against terrorists and rogue states such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea.”

The reality of those threats leaves no doubt that missile defense is infinitely more important in the post-Sept.11 world.

-The writer, a freshman with an undeclared major, is a member of the GW College Republicans.

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