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Thursday, July 06, 2006

As North Korea Threatens More Launches, Where are the "Star Wars" Critics?

North Korea is threatening to continue launching missiles even as the reaction from among United Nations members is virtually unanimously negative. Meanwhile, the missile defense system the U.S. has been developing, off and on, since President Reagan first proposed it in 1983, has been moved up from its current testing status to full operation.

U.S. officials have indicated confidence that the system can knock out the NoDong medium range and Taepodong long-range missiles being launched by the North Koreans. But the system is still very much limited, consisting of only ll ground-based sites in Alaska and California, and four Aegis-class Navy destroyers equipped with tracking computers and Standard-3 interceptor missiles.

As the politicians talk at the UN and the North Koreans rant on the peninsula, conspicuously absent from the cacophony of voices are those of the many critics of missile defense. The Washington Examiner notes their silence and offers some observations, including this:

"Noticeably absent are the voices of those who, since President Reagan first proposed such a system in 1984, have fought development and deployment of the missile defense system the U.S. must now depend upon in dealing with North Korea. These folks have claimed over and over that the system they derisively call 'Star Wars' can’t possibly work, would be too expensive, would incite a new world arms race, etc., etc.

"Names that come to mind in this regard include senators like Joe Biden, D-Del., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., and the Clinton-Gore administration that delayed and dilly-dallied with work on missile defense for most of the ’90s."

Go here to read the full Examiner editorial. This is an important point that the MSM, which has also exhibited a great degree of skepticism and sometimes outright hostility to the missile defense effort, isn't likely to pursue with any vigor. The notable MSM exception is the editorial page of The Washington Post, which has been supportive of missile defense since 2002.

UPDATE: More Historical Context on Critics

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters did some digging and came up with a bunch of materials that lend much-needed historical context to the opposition to missile defense., including that of once and future Democratic presidential aspirant Sen. Joseph Biden.

In the same vein, Politburo Diktat provides links to a dozen or so examples of critics telling us why we shouldn't/can't/will never have a missile defense system, including but not limited to Daily Kos, Fred Kaplan, Mike Dukaksis, Carl Levin, etc. etc. etc.

UPDATE II: Levin Tried to Defund Missile Defense Days Before North Korean Launches

Tim Chapman knows Capitol Hill better than anybody else in the Blogosphere (at least in my humble opinion) and he shows it with a superb piece in Human Events that describes in detail the "Star Wars" critics most recent efforts to kill the program, including a push by Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, barely a year before the North Korean nutcase started pushing launch buttons like digits on cell phone keypad.

Chapman notes:

"Also, on the June 26 Fox News Sunday show, Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told host Chris Wallace that we should 'anticipate that such missile defenses that we have now in place - and it’s been a struggle through the Congress to get the money to put these defenses in - they will be utilized to the extent they can.'

"Warner’s reference to struggle in Congress was a jab at the Democrats. The ranking Democrat on Warner’s Committee - Carl Levin, who was sitting adjacent - did not respond. After all, Levin has been one of the chief opponents of missile defense, most recently leading a failed effort to defund the program by $50 million."

Blogospherians should email Levin asking him why he thinks America should be defenseless against madmen with nuclear weapons in places like North Korea.

UPDATE III: Japan Wants Missile Defense System ASAP

No surprise there. Go here for the full story.