In 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced his “Star Wars” proposal to build an impenetrable shield to protect the U.S. against nuclear-tipped, intercontinental ballistic missiles. While the National Academy of Sciences stated “science offers no prospect of effective defense” against the threat of nuclear war, Reagan believed in the fantasy and began pouring money into it.
After three years of work, a Senate study reported the scientific research had only deepened understanding of the technical unfeasibility of “hitting a bullet with a bullet” in space. By 2000, the goals for ballistic missile defense had shrunk to a system intended only to counter small, unsophisticated attacks from countries like North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
When George W. Bush came into office, he ignored the “fly before you buy” policy and abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia to deploy a system in Alaska that could not shoot down a single warhead.
Central to ballistic missile defense is the ability of an interceptor and its kill vehicle to distinguish between incoming warheads and simple decoys. Today, after 33 years and the expenditure of some $200 billion, that remains an unsolved problem.
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The only thing “Star Wars” will ever protect is the profits of the weapons industries.
Jim Stoffels, Richland