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National Missile Defense Essay

4347 words - 17 pages

National Missile Defense

Historical Perspective

On March 23, 1983, through a nationally televised address to the nation, then President Ronald Reagan envisioned a ”Star Wars” defense system to replace the existing element of mutual deterrence between the two Cold War superpowers. The system calls for a high-tech impenetrable ballistic missile shield for the United States. The speech marks the birth of the Strategic Defense Initiative1 (SDI). It came about when the Soviets then had numerical advantage over the United States in ballistic missiles that are increasingly accurate and powerful. In fact, the Soviets has the ability to overwhelm the United States' missiles on the ground should a conflict ever occur. Arms race is a vicious cycle in itself and will not contribute to the cause of world peace. Therefore, to render this advantage impotent and obsolete, President Reagan directs the nation’s talented and government agencies to begin exploring and researching programs that will achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating threats due to weapons of mass destruction now and for the years to come.

In less than a decade after setting the vision, the United States was grossly reminded of the necessity of employing a capable missile defense system during the Gulf War. On February 25, 1991, in a missile attack on Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, an Iraqi-launched Scud missile’s warhead hit a warehouse that served as a United States barrack, killing 28 soldiers and injuring scores of others in the process. Apparently, one Patriot battery was not operational while the other was not able to track the incoming missile due to a software problem.

Immediate Perspective

The number of nations possessing ballistic missiles has increased over the years and many of these nations are also seeking to employ nuclear capabilities in their arsenal. Unfortunately, some of these nations are not in concert with the goals and vision United States has for world peace. In fact, they oppose United States’ growing influence in their region and view the presence of United States an obstacle to fulfilling their own regional agenda. They harbor anger and contempt towards the United States for its role. Furthermore, today’s environment provides increasing accessibility to technology, information and expertise to design, build and deliver weapons of mass destruction that can threaten our security. There exists an immediate need to address our nation's capability to defend itself competently in the event of a missile attack from these nations.

The recent years has also seen the emergence of many groups that embrace terrorism. The world witnessed in pure anger the events of September 11, 2001. Also, mindless suicidal bombings on streets and shopping malls full of innocent civilians constantly filled our news. These acts underscore the undivided intent of groups to disrupt world peace at any cost. Accordingly, these groups have expressed interest in acquiring chemical,...

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