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The Security Benefits of Space-Based Defense

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump’s proposal to establish a U.S. Space Force as an independent military service on an equal footing with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is necessary to defend the American people from the unprecedented existential and growing threat posed by the horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear missiles.

Classical deterrence theory that prevented the bipolar Cold War from escalating into a thermonuclear holocaust may well fail in the emerging new multi-polar security environment wherein RussiaChinaNorth Korea and Iran rely increasingly on weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles for blackmail and warfighting.

Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack by missile or satellite in the military doctrines of all these actors is considered the most effective element of Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare, the greatest Revolution in Military Affairs in history. EMP attack, that could blackout national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, enables rogue states like North Korea and Iran, and even terrorists groups armed with a single nuclear weapon, to become potentially “giant killers.”

The march of military technology, where even North Korea has the H-Bomb, where even Yemen’s Houthi rebels have ballistic missiles that regularly attack Saudi cities, is rapidly taking us to a place where failed states and terrorists can pose an existential threat to Western Civilization.

U.S. Space Force could become the locus of a counter-revolution in military technology so offensive nuclear missiles are no longer the most powerful weapons, no longer dominate the international chess board.

Space-based defenses could render nuclear missiles obsolete.

Our children need not live under the threat of annihilation by RussiaChina, “crazy states” and terrorists.

EMP, satellites, and ballistic missiles are all essentially space weapons.

Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act has authorized development of space-based defenses.

U.S. Space Force can finally realize President Ronald Reagan’s long neglected vision in his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) of space-based defenses that would kill nuclear missiles, instead of enemy populations. Instead of avenging American dead through Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), a U.S. Space Force could shield and save the lives of the American people.

U.S. Space Force and space-based defenses could become the basis for a new philosophy of national security more consistent with the principles of Judeo-Christian Civilization, replacing MAD. Call it Strategic Assured National Existence (SANE).

Ambassador Henry Cooper, former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, has written a series of excellent articles reminding Washington and the American people that President Reagan’s SDI, much derided by the liberal press as “Star Wars,” did in fact produce revolutionary technologies for a space-based missile defense.

“Brilliant Pebbles” would have comprised hundreds of space-based interceptors capable of defeating even large-scale missile attacks by Russia or China by intercepting missiles and warheads during boosting, mid-course, and re-entry phases.

Tragically, President Bill Clinton and his secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, canceled SDI and Brilliant Pebbles for ideological reasons. Mr. Clinton did not want to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty — which would have been necessary to deploy Brilliant Pebbles — because he considered the ABM Treaty and MAD “the cornerstone of strategic stability.”

Defense Secretary Aspin boasted, by canceling SDI and Brilliant Pebbles, he “took the stars out of Star Wars.” Mr. Clinton and Mr. Aspin left the American people undefended from nuclear missiles, even though the trend was clear that missile and nuclear weapons technology was rapidly proliferating to rogue states and sponsors of terrorism.

President George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty to allow deployment of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD). But Deep State bureaucrats in the Departments of State and Defense who still believe MAD is “the cornerstone of strategic stability” deliberately “dumbed down” the ground-based interceptors of U.S. NMD so they cannot intercept long-range missiles from Russia or China.

Indeed, the “big brains” at State and Defense failed to anticipate that North Korea’s long-range missiles, based on technology from Russia and China, would be so sophisticated. So today U.S. National Missile Defenses are challenged even by the nascent intercontinental missile threat from North Korea.

U.S. Space Force dedicated to making space-based defenses a reality would enable the American people and our allies to escape the suicide pact that is MAD. The fact that the U.S. Air Force has been content with MAD, has poured its creative energies into offensive missiles and bombers, proves that the revolutionary promise of the High Frontier and space-based defenses needs a better advocate, and new management — a U.S. Space Force.

Ambassador Cooper estimates a crash program on Brilliant Pebbles could deploy robust space-based defenses before the end of President Trump’s second term at a cost of $20 billion. Mr. Trump’s necessary modernization of offensive nuclear missiles, bombers and submarines to enforce MAD will cost over $700 billion, and will not be accomplished until Mr. Trump is out of office — assuming congressional Democrats or a future Democrat president allow strategic forces modernization to proceed.

Time for a new “Manhattan Project” dedicated to deploying space-based defenses as soon as possible, harnessing science and technology to defend peoples and nations, instead of destroying them.

• Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, served as chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commission, and in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.