Close the Missile Defense Gap Now
Missile threats are real and missile defense science is solid. The funding costs are low and the moral case is overwhelming.
April 29, 2009 - 12:00 am
Modern missile technology, in the hands of terror states and their proxies, threatens.
The next level of national security advocacy has therefore arrived as well.
It is the public campaign for funding and deployment of missile defense systems against rogue states and terror groups who are not deterrable by the threat of counterstrike or mutually assured destruction.
The enemies of the West have concluded that 20th century tactics have not worked to defeat or destroy the Jewish state.
Over decades, through fortitude, technology, and the alliance with the United States, Israel has withstood Arab manpower force advantages; coordinated multi-front enemy attacks; Russian and petrodollar funding; and the fervor of jihadist boycott, pedagogy, propaganda, and suicide/homicide bombers.
The 21st century reveals that Israel’s declared ideological and regional enemies have shifted military strategies and are now procuring increasingly dangerous missiles — delivery systems that carry chemical, biological, and, soon, nuclear warheads.
From short-range Hamas mortars and rockets in Gaza that disrupt and harm civilian life, to the longer-range missiles held by Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran that span the range of Israel’s geographical and defense bases, Israel is surrounded by the largest missile fleet in the world.
Unfortunately, there is yet another existential threat level. EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is a nuclear weapon that does not land on, but explodes over a country like Israel (actually over the eastern Mediterranean due to the earth’s curvature), causing immediate destruction of all electronics. Think just three days of food and water coupled with societal panic and the end of contemporary civilization.
Israeli Air Force pilots, courageous paratroopers, patriotic reservists, and even well-built security fences can’t halt incoming missiles. Missiles can fly 24/7 and in any weather. They arrive at lightning speed — in seconds or minutes. They are easy to purchase, prepare, and deliver at the push of a button. They disrupt commerce and the call-up of reservists in times of crisis. And launchers can hide among civilians, giving the enemy cover and fueling the argument that retaliation is disproportionate.
Israel’s last two wars were defensive responses to untargeted terrorist rockets from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in northern Gaza. These terror groups have continued to produce and import increasingly lethal and longer-range weapons stockpiles. Israel’s dilemma wasn’t whether its response was disproportionate, but if it was effective in deterring or defeating committed enemies.
Put more broadly, can Western democracies, including the United States, preempt or defend attacks before a crisis develops, rather than merely planning and preparing to retaliate while meekly surviving post-disaster as a destroyed nation?
Israel has one missile defense system it can deploy — the Arrow II interceptors — designed to hit Iranian-launched Shahab missiles. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has apparently decided not to fund further production, leaving Israel potentially vulnerable to mass attack. The Israeli Missile Defense Association argues that Israel must organize a range of multilayered defenses to intercept both short-range rockets using lasers and longer-range missiles. Boost phase technology would enable Israel to hit an enemy missile in her own territory, limiting risk and potentially aiding deterrence.