With the news that North Korea is advancing the goal of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, many observers have asked: Is the Cold War over? I believe no.
This is just the latest in a pattern of behavior where rogue states bet on a future that, in their minds, does not include the “world community.” We already know China has figured out how to acquire more nuclear capability in the very near future, simply by dropping dummy ICBMs in the ocean and having them detonated years later, without making waves.
The same thing will happen with North Korea. More bombs – and the perception that we will have to make more. As a result, China and North Korea will keep betting on our future weakness.
Let me explain.
During the 1960s, we abandoned the road to the moon. We turned away from our satellites, and rushed toward missiles. Meanwhile, China was attracting thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians, and even developing its own supply of decoys. As a result, China is now a full-fledged superpower, and we are sitting at the table in conversations with them.
It’s important to remember that the Cold War is in danger of being replaced by a missile war, in which both our former adversary – the Soviet Union – and a newly aggressive China will have the capability to instantly strike us with nuclear warhead-delivered missiles. The ICBM is the most economical, efficient, reliable and destructive technology known to humankind.
When President Obama was elected, I was the first in Congress to warn that Russia would be able to immediately hit America with their new nuclear weapons. The Russians simply need some place to hide their missile silos, their rail cars, or their nuclear devices. At the same time, China wants access to high-tech weapon technology, in order to improve its capabilities in the Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) space.
In the midst of this new arms race, I have always pushed for America to build and upgrade its national missile defense. Yet, everyone thought I was nuts. Why would we need to invest in missile defense? The Obama administration was busy trying to reestablish relations with Russia, hoping they would curtail their nuclear program. Why would they invest in such a costly program? Even the Russian nuclear experts said that it was a waste of money.
In 2018, it is frightening to see that missile defense may be even more necessary than it was after the Cold War. The anti-missile missiles under development in Europe will not be able to shoot down any of the future Russian missiles – they will have an early warning system, but nothing to respond to a Russian ICBM headed for the United States.
It is important to remember that the Cold War is in danger of being replaced by a missile war, in which both our former adversary – the Soviet Union – and a newly aggressive China will have the capability to instantly strike us with nuclear warhead-delivered missiles. The ICBM is the most economical, efficient, reliable and destructive technology known to humankind.
If the past is any guide, we may have no choice but to begin arming ourselves, with missiles. So, today, while we should maintain strict controls on missile proliferation, we must begin discussions with China and Russia about their missile programs. We must pressure them to be more transparent with their missile programs, and to cooperate to limit proliferation, and eventually to negotiate an arms control agreement.
The Cold War was not over in 1989. It is time to regain it. We must build up our missile capabilities, and continue to develop missile defense. The Cold War is not over – and it is not going away anytime soon.