Trump’s ‘Star Wars’ revival channels the wrong Reagan legacy – Washington Examiner - http://www.straittalk.co.za | make money online

January 18, 2019 12:27 am
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On Thursday, President Trump released his much-anticipated Missile Defense Review. Speaking at the Pentagon, he talked up the plan to boost missile defense in grandiose terms, but the real message of the review, both unclassified and short on specific calls to action, wasn’t the president’s words but the challenges it lays out, most significantly complacency and new threats from China and Russia. Unfortunately, the report and the president’s address points to the wrong way to combat them.

For the first time, the Missile Defense Review explicitly lists both China and Russia as a threat: “While Russia and China pose separate challenges and are distinct in many ways, both are enhancing their existing offensive missile systems and developing advanced sea- and air-launched cruise missiles as well as hypersonic capabilities.”

That acknowledgment is significant as it signals a refocusing of defense priorities from rogue states like Iran and North Korea to a new era of potential great power competition. For the U.S., as the report acknowledges, our current defense systems would do little against an all-out onslaught from a powerful state actor as they were designed to meet a small-scale attack.

The second threat in the report is the warning against complacency, outlined by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in the preface. He writes:

“We must remind ourselves that our technological advantages can be fleeting. Military superiority is not a birthright granted to us; it is the product of diligence, creativity, and sustained investment. We must now apply the same level of effort and ingenuity to pass on to future generations the same relative security and military advantages that have been the bedrock of peace and prosperity.”

Shanahan is right, and the casual acceptance that the U.S. remains the pre-eminent force in all corners of the world must not be taken for granted. Indeed, as a recent Defense Department report warns, China could potentially win a regional war and is rapidly developing its capabilities.

So, how should the U.S. address these challenges?

Contrary to Trump’s pledge Thursday morning to have a system to “ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” the best way to ensure that these challenges aren’t fatal is not with military build up. Instead, meaningful arms control agreements, strong bilateral relations, and a commitment to not heading off a damaging arms race will do far more to foster security and peace.

Although Trump’s report drew comparisons to President Ronald Reagan’s proposed “Star Wars” missile defense system, he should instead look to another of Reagan’s initiatives that became an enduring part of his legacy: arms control treaties with our then-rival, the Soviet Union. In the end, it was not a targeted missile system that never came to fruition that kept a nuclear war at bay, but working relationships with the Soviet Union and a series of treaties to cut down, inspect, and monitor dangerous weapons.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan noted in the report, “to our competitors, we see what you are doing, and we are taking action.” That action should start with meaningful arms control negotiations.


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