Missile defense system costly, but necessary

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 21, 2001

Monday, May 21, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

We wonder how many people doubted John F. Kennedy’s vow to

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put a man on the moon.

But, within nine years of JFK’s bold challenge, we did put

a man on the moon. And we opened the scientific and exploratory

floodgates, broadening our horizons and our minds.

Now, the latest target of doubt is a proposed national defense

missile shield. The controversial, $100 billion project would

create a virtual shield around the United States by establishing

a system that detects, then shoots down, incoming enemy warheads.

Unfortunately, the system has proven only partially successful,

and it even failed a test last summer.

Critics cite that failure, along with the exhorbitant cost

and the international ripples such a system would cause, as reasons

to avoid it.

Proponents cite the faith factor, ala JFK, saying that the

system would work – it could be up to 70 percent effective, some

say; it is necessary for protecting the United States in this

ever changing world; and it is absolutely necessary.

And, in truth, the project requires a great deal of faith,

just like any scientific discovery or leap in technology.

And, in theory, it could work.

Of course, we’d like to think the United States would never

need a missile defense shield. We recognize the reality that our

greatest danger likely comes from rogue nations or terrorists

– whether international or homegrown – who could wreak havoc in

our heartland. Yet, we cannot ignore the reality of the threat

from other countries. And, if the missile defense shield is a

viable and necessary step in bolstering our national defenses,

they we should pursue it.

Yes, it is costly.

But so was putting a man on the moon.