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Questions beg answers

May 17, 2012
The Daily News

EDITOR:Our first son was just 3 years old, in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan boldly challenged the long-accepted nuclear doctrine of "Mutually Assured Destruction."

MAD, it was called. I had heard of the SALT 1 strategic arms limitation treaty under President Nixon and watched Jimmie Carter sign SALT 2 with Brezhnev, both in attempts to limit strategic nuclear weapons stockpiles.

At the time, I understood how the two super-powers were somewhat held-at-bay through nuclear first strike capabilities of both nations.

Limiting the number of nukes in the world through treatise, seemed a good thing - if the Russians would do something abnormal, and honor their word and treaty.

All this aside, I distinctly remember thinking back then, how great the possibility of a missile shield, a truly defensive system would be. A real way to neutralize a nuclear ICBM in the stratosphere, before it could obliterate millions of innocent people.

With some of President Obama's recent actions and live microphone dialog, I did a little research on this program.

Shortly after Reagan's announcement, Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) became the subject of intense political controversy and projected high costs. Critics argued that it would extend the arms race into space and cause the Soviet Union to expand its own offensive nuclear forces.

Opponents soon nick-named the SDI, Star Wars and every form of diatribe from green lasers from space and the militarization of space was opined. Many of the proposed weapons, including neutron particle beams, rail guns, and lasers represented exotic and un-proven new technologies.

Over 50 percent of our nation's top scientists and engineers had been assembled for feasibility studies, and to structure a research program to develop the technologies that could provide an effective defense against missile launches.

All avenues of satellite technology, weaponry and miniaturization of electronics had been explored. We didn't see it at the time, but Reagan's vision unwittingly accelerated the end of the Cold War, though SDI had become a program shrouded in controversy. Costs soared and researchers struggled to develop what was thought to be the essential and successful technologies, even as the threat of an atomic exchange with the former Soviet Union was beginning to wan.

Then, years later, and responding to the new world situation, on 29 January 1991, President George H. Bush announced a reorientation of the SDI program away from developing strategic defenses, to a new system known as GPALS for Global Protection Against Limited Strikes. GPALS would consist of three main components: a ground-based national missile defense, a ground-based theater missile defense, and a space-based global defense.

Even continuing under President Bill Clinton, the emphasis on theater missile defense (TMD) was reinforced, and his secretary of defense, Les Aspin, Jr., changed the name of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. In announcing this change on May 13, 1993, Aspin hailed the end of the Cold War and credited SDI with helping to end it.

Today, much has changed since SDI was first envisioned under Ronald Reagan. Technological advances have turned fantasy into reality and improvements in electronics, computers, and miniaturization have made SDI capabilities more rapidly achievable, at costs far less than originally projected.

One could argue that SDI research spawned huge technological advances that have trickled- down to consumers in many forms of new electronics. In the last 2-3 decades, arms proliferation among Third World nations has begun to expose a new, ever expanding threat to world peace and stability.

In the year 2000, the CIA predicted 15-20 developing nations having the ability to launch ballistic missiles; six with ranges of at least 1,500 miles. For these, and even more so for stateless 21st century terrorists, the prospect of massive retaliation no longer offers a sure-fire deterrent to smaller, isolated rouge missile attacks.

Now, the former Soviet Union satellite countries continue to be vulnerable to political instability. Their massive nuclear stockpile of over 30,000 tactical and strategic warheads, is scattered among four former Soviet republics, all who are far from achieving a consensus on the ultimate disposition of these weapons. Their cash-strapped government is not above selling weapons that can fall into the control of terrorists.

The United States has maintained an unmatched, technological lead in the area of defensive missile tracking systems.

Our position has been a priceless, strategic advantage that for three decades Russia has been trying to get us to yield.

In an effort to placate Putin, President Obama had already in 2009 abruptly canceled the missile-defense system the Poles and Czechs had agreed to host in defiance of Russian threats.

In addition to canceling the Polish/Czech missile-defense system, Obama gave the Russians accession to the World Trade Organization, a START treaty that they need and we don't (their weapons are obsolete and deteriorating rapidly), and has shown a scandalously blind eye to their violations of human rights and dismantling of democracy.

Obama even gave Putin a congratulatory call for winning his recent phony election.

Webster's definition of treason begins with; 1: the betrayal of a trust, then describes an allegiance to protect the sovereign and family of a nation from injury or death.

Last month President Obama was accidently recorded on an open microphone saying quietly to Dmitry Medvedev: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it's important for him to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility. (Barack Obama to Dmitry Medvedev, March 26)

Questions beg answers from Mr. Obama on which of all these issues - Syria, Iran, Eastern Europe, Georgia, human rights. He is ready to offer Putin yet more flexibility as soon as he gets past his last election?

Where else will he show U.S. adversaries more flexibility? Yet more aid to North Korea? More weakening of tough Senate sanctions against Iran?

Also recorded on the open microphone was Medvedev's response: "I stand with you. I wonder how many American voters do?"

Robert Bagley

Iron Mountain



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