President Trump can save America and the Free World from the self-destructive doctrine of nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). It is his greatest opportunity to do good.
Space-based defenses could make nuclear missiles and MAD obsolete.
A space shield against nuclear war — originally envisioned by President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and derided by foolish critics as “Star Wars” — could remove the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging overhead for generations.
Contrary to propagandists and MAD devotees, President Reagan’s SDI did, in fact, produce revolutionary new technologies that could have made real a “Star Wars” space shield — Brilliant Pebbles. President Clinton killed SDI and Brilliant Pebbles to preserve MAD, “the cornerstone of strategic stability.”
Ambassador Henry Cooper, former SDI Director and father of Brilliant Pebbles, writes an article virtually every week proving even more effective space-based defenses could be built using today’s more advanced technologies. The nation’s foremost experts on space and missile defense agree with him.
Space defenses could spearhead a revolution in military technology shifting strategic advantage to passive and active defenses and champions of peace. Aggressors hoping to win World War III with a surprise nuclear first strike, or with nuclear blackmail, would be thwarted — much to the dismay of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
Thus, America could lead the world away from MAD, where a nightmarish peace is maintained by the threat of nuclear vengeance and mass destruction of national populations. Instead, we can build a new strategic system, consistent with Judeo-Christian values, where peace is maintained by active and passive defenses that destroy nuclear weapons and protect life.
We might call the new pro-life strategic principle Strategic Assured National Existence or SANE. (See my article “Better SANE Than MAD” Mackenzie Institute, March 28, 2018).
Far-sighted members of Congress (led by former Rep. Trent Franks and Senator Ted Cruz), anticipating ideological foot-dragging on space-based defenses by some MAD officials, ordered space interceptors in the law.
The FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as amended with stronger language in the FY2019 NDAA, in Section 1688 directs:
SEC. 1688. PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT OF SPACE-BASED BALLISTIC MISSILE INTERCEPT LAYER.
(a) DEVELOPMENT.—Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency shall develop a space-based ballistic missile intercept layer to the ballistic
missile defense system that is—
(1) regionally focused;
(2) capable of providing boost-phase defense; and
(3) achieves an operational capability at the earliest practicable date.
The NDAA is not merely a suggestion from Congress, but legally binding upon the Defense Department. The NDAA requires rapid development of space-based anti-missile interceptors, including testing to be accomplished by 2022.
Congress has opened the door for President Trump to replace MAD with SANE. His next defense budget should fund — or better yet reprogram funding now — for development of space-based interceptors.
Space-based active defenses, and passive defenses for critical infrastructures, are imperative:
The nuclear Triad of missiles, bombers, and submarines is increasingly vulnerable to a first strike from Russia or China. Space-based defenses do not have to be perfect — and are now necessary — to degrade adversary confidence in a first strike.
Politically, there may never be another opportunity for space-based defenses. Opponents are proposing drones and aircraft for boost-phase interception to derail space-based defenses.
But drones and aircraft lack range, dwell-time, would be useless against missiles launched from Russia or China, and are no substitute for the 24/7 readiness of space-based defenses to always shoot-down missiles launched from anywhere.
Nuclear EMP attack — possible from rogue states and terrorists — is an existential threat to our civilization that demands the best possible active defenses everywhere: ground-based, sea-based, airborne, and especially space-based.
Passive defenses hardening electric grids and all life-sustaining critical infrastructures from EMP, cyber and other threats is necessary to supplement active defenses and to work a strategic revolution that transitions from MAD to SANE.
Modernization of the nuclear Triad (costing $500-700 billion over 10 years) may be impossible, since Democrats are opposed and control the House.
Space-based defenses costing $10-20 billion could be deployed before the end of a Trump second term. EMP and cyber hardening the electric grid ($2-4 billion) and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures ($10-20 billion) could be accomplished simultaneously.
$50 billion saved annually from ending the war in Afghanistan would more than pay for SANE and be achievable even against opposition from MAD diehards and Democrats.
The cost of being unprotected from EMP could be 90 percent of the U.S. population — 293,000,000 fatalities.
For those still ignorant about EMP, in 2017 North Korea had an estimated 12 ICBMs, armed with atomic or thermonuclear warheads. At 80 percent reliability, the 10 most populous U.S. cities could be targeted. Listed are their populations and annual Gross Metropolitan Product, which is much less than the net economic loss and cost of reconstruction:
New York City 3,537,673 $1.7 trillion
Los Angeles 3,976,322 $1 trillion
Chicago 2,704,958 $679 billion
Houston 2,303,482 $490 billion
Phenix 1,615,017 $243 billion
Philadelphia 1,580,863 $445 billion
San Antonio 1,511,946 $129 billion
San Diego 1,406,630 $232 billion
Dallas 1,317,929 $535 billion
San Jose 1,025,350 $275 billion
President Trump, build Star Wars now.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.