From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Psst … Here is a Bush Weakness!
Yes, Mr. Vice President, I agree with your criticism of George W’sproposal to build a space-based AND ground-based antiballistic missilesystem to protect the 50 states and our friends around the world from anuclear missile attack by a “rogue nation.” It is a zany idea that comesfrom Bush’s absolutely coo-coo national security advisors — RichardPerle and Paul Wolfowitz — who have been bored to death since the endof the Cold War and would like to get some action going. The fact thatthese characters have Bush in their hip pocket means they also have theGOP political establishment in their hip pocket, because there is noplace else to go. I note that former Treasury Secretary George Shultz,who has been wrong on ALMOST every public policy position he has evertaken and who opposed “Star Wars” when it made sense, now supports itwhen it makes no sense.
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There was no bigger supporter of “Star Wars” than Jude Wanniski whenit wasfirst proposed in the Reagan administration. When the Soviets wereaiming 10,000 ballistic missiles at us, it did not matter if “Star Wars”might not work as planned. The very idea that it would complicateMoscow’s planning and we would get the cost/benefit advantage was enoughfor me. Even if we built antiballistic missiles out of cardboard, aslong as they looked real when seen from a Soviet satellite, the conceptwould help break the will of their strategic planners. And it did.George W. Shultz was wrong.
I even helped persuade the Wall Street Journal editorial board toembrace the label “Star Wars” when it was trying to make it sound lessfantastic by calling it a “Strategic Defense Initiative.” It got muchmore public support by being identified with Luke Skywalker and Han Soloin their struggle against the Evil Empire’s Death Star. “SDI” soundslike a bureaucratic acronym for the military-industrial complex, whichis what George W. Bush is now proposing. There ain’t no more Death Star.And the only Evil Empire on the planet is the International MonetaryFund, run by Darth Vader, a name that loosely translates into “Father ofScarcity.”
Bush sounds like a reasonable fellow because he is proposing to getrid of a bunch of our offensive nuclear missiles, which are gatheringdust anyway and provide no profits to the arms merchants anymore. Hisproposal, which the WSJ thinks is just about the cleverest idea it hasever come across, would cost ONE ZILLION DOLLARS, give or take atrillion. To any objections from the People’s Republic of China thatsuch a system would be offensive in nature and would push them into anarms race, Bush would suggest we sell or rent them use of thisstate-of-the-art defensive weaponry so they can be protected against”rogue states” too.
Your problem, however, is that you will not be able to cash in onthis issue at the polls in November because your own missile-defenseprogram is just as bad (although not quite as expensive). Where the armsmerchants are running Bush’s campaign, Greenpeace has you in its hippocket. The military-industrial complex wants to buy a zillion dollars’worth of insurance against the possibility that some tinhorn dictatorwill get his hands on enough plutonium to build a nuclear bomb, thenwill build a rocket in his back yard, stick the warhead on its nose andmaybe BLOW UP South Korea or, even worse, Israel!!! ThePerle-Wolfowitz-Shultz-Bush plan requires development of ground-basedABMs backed up with a system in space that would be able to keep an eyeon all the backyards of all the tinhorn dictators. When it spots theirmissile being fired, it would shoot a laser beam at it and knock it offbefore it really got going. Maybe the fragments would even fall backright on the head of the tinhorn dictator and kill him (or her). Itwould serve him (or her) right. You can see how expensive such a systemmight be, Mr. Vice President, which is one reason why you propose yourland-based system.
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Trying to explain this to a friend the other day, I put it this way:”Bush wants to protect his house by buying a thousand Dobermans andhaving them snarl around the entire perimeter of the property. Gore isonly buying one really expensive Doberman, but it is blind.” By this,Mr. Vice President, I mean you can’t expect me to believe a ground-basedsystem can protect anyone from an incoming nuke by shooting a bullet atit. It is conceivable that you could fire a nuke at the incoming nukeand even if you came close, you would blow it up before it reached itstarget. The greenies oppose this method because they do not want nuclearstuff flying around in the atmosphere. Oh well.
The other problem with your plan is that even if you could hit abullet with a bullet, how do you know where to put your ground-basedABM? If you locate it in California, maybe the tinhorn dictator willfire it at Florida or New York City. You would have to build a lot ofthem. The arms merchants will be happy to oblige but what about thetaxpayers?
What I would suggest, sir, is that you simply abandon yourbullet-to-bullet scheme. It is not a risky scheme, but it isblind-as-a-bat and will not guard against any intrusions. Instead, youshould get behind the idea of defending our naval fleets against nuclearattack. Regional defense makes more practical sense than area defense.
If our fleets were equipped with ABM systems, no tinhorn dictatorwould fire his (or her) one or two rockets at them because they wouldprobably get knocked down — as long as you were prepared to fire”enhanced radiation” bullets at them. That’s a nice term for littlenuke warheads that would work even in the vicinity of an incoming. Youwould have to explain to Greenpeace that it would be better to have thenuke explosion in the upper atmosphere rather than in the middle of thefleet. You can do that. It might even help you win the election.