“I agree with the intel community that we assess that they [the North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland.” ~ Adm. William Gortney, Northcom Commander, responsible for defending the United States from long-range missile attack.
Admiral Gortney’s comments at an October 8 Atlantic Council meeting were made a few days before North Korea’s Great Leader, Kim Jong Un, in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Workers Party, again threatened “war with the U.S. Imperialists.” Nuclear-armed North Korea often threatens to destroy the U.S. and South Korea, with whom it technically remains at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a treaty.
Admiral Gortney says we can defend against the North Korean threat today. But I think he is only considering the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat that comes over the North Pole. To the best of my knowledge, we are still defenseless against a nuclear weapon detonated on a satellite that approached the United States from over the South Pole—producing an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could shut down our electric grid indefinitely. That would lead to the death of most Americans within the following year.
We are also vulnerable to ballistic missiles launched from vessels off our coast, especially from the Gulf of Mexico. And we have no known programs to counter these all too real threats that might be posed by North Korea. We should not forget that a North Korean vessel carrying two SA-2 nuclear capable ballistic missiles under a ton of sugar was stopped by Panama a couple of years ago. Practicing, you think????
Such threats will surely become more troublesome as North Korea gains more ballistic missiles and associated launch capabilities for ICBMs and/or satellites. And as Admiral Gortney noted, “The problem is we’re on the wrong side of the cost curve. We postured to shoot down not very expensive rockets with expensive rockets.” So we have a looming technological problem that was long ago anticipated but not accommodated in our programs to build our current ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems. This serious problem needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
And given the long-standing North Korea-Iran alliance, there are broader issues. I worry more about Iran than North Korea, because the Great Leader may be deterred from attacking us by the threat of U.S. retaliation if they attack us, whereas Iran’s Grand Ayatollah might be content with U.S. retaliation if he kills most Americans in Iran’s prior attack — as is possible after a high altitude EMP attack. This cost he may accept to hasten “the return of the Mahdi.”
These issues are exacerbated as President Vladimir Putin orchestrates Russia’s advances to fill the political vacuum resulting from President Obama’s delusional “leading from behind” global strategy that seems set to undercut our influence around the world. The dangers to America are growing — particularly from the Middle and Near East in the near-term and eventually from China, which in concert with Russia, is advancing its strategic capabilities while ours atrophy. Then there’s nuclear-armed Pakistan and the Taliban which seems to be moving there in unhelpful ways.
On Sunday evening’s 60-Minutes, President Obama said not to worry—he is more concerned about Climate Change. That’s what real leadership is about. Really????
Frankly, I doubt there is much prospect for change in these dangerous conditions, unless and until a new administration works constructively with congress to repair the accumulated damage to all we hold dear from our failed and failing policies and programs.
A key question is, “What can be done to prepare for such a new administration?” And what can be done to provide options to that new administration for “quick fixes” not only to our policies but to our military systems to implement the needed new policies?
Little being pursued by the current administration will change this situation — and current funding constraints are not conducive for new starts for needed remedial systems.
Furthermore, it is unclear that anyone in the administration is planning for ways to counter the most worrisome threat scenarios. So, a non-government “coalition of the willing” needs to address these issues.
As I discussed last week, we experienced some of these same conditions in the 1970s, until we finally realized that Soviet advances were consequences of U.S. appeasement policies and inaction that simply did not confront the threat posed by the programs and leadership of the Soviet Union. And we changed our policies and programs.
We again need to identify unambiguously the threats we confront and prioritize what can be done about them.
Some are threats from “peer” competitors — Russia and China.
Others, perhaps of greater concern — at least in the near term, are from the rogue states North Korea and especially Iran — and associated jihadi elements of both Sunni and Shia persuasions.
Then there are other jihadi collaborators and or surrogates, including those that flow from Pakistan and its Taliban connections. And there’s the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and self-starter jihadis — including some now making their way among the refugees swarming into Western Europe and the United States.
We live in a very dangerous time—actually I believe the most dangerous of my lifetime.
But we can take some comfort from a very dangerous situation that dramatically improved in 1980 when we formally changed our strategic policies and acquisition programs; and especially with the election of President Ronald Reagan whose philosophy of “Peace Through Strength” became a watchword. Rather than continuing the previous policy of seeking “Détente,” he sought a more confrontational policy captured by his famous quote: “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.”
America again needs such leadership and new policies.
We need again policies and programs to make major improvements in our military capabilities, as were quickly initiated in late 1980 and 1981. Our arms control agenda then was also redirected to fit with Reagan’s interest in less reliance on only nuclear offensive forces, without strategic defenses, to lower levels of offensive nuclear weapons and a major role for strategic defenses — particularly non-nuclear strategic defenses.
The rest is history that we need to update and replicate — especially in dealing with reality rather than continuing illusions like the terrible Iran Deal that releases over $100 billion to Iran, the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism. I hope someone is keeping a list of the Senators who signed us up for that lousy deal.
Among the needed initiatives is a strategy that is responsive to the current threats and also recaptures President Reagan’s vision for a major role for truly effective strategic BMD systems rather than simply continuing the programs that are not cost-effective, as Admiral Gortney aptly noted. And that threat is growing as he and others have made clear. We have little time to waste in addressing these shortfalls.
Our current rudimentary BMD systems to protect the American people are a pale shadow of what Reagan envisioned and were demonstrated to be plausible under his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program—at least through my watch as SDI Director, which ended with the advent of the Clinton administration in January 1993.
At that time, Defense Secretary Les Aspin bragged that he “took the stars out of Star Wars.” The “Star Wars” label was invented by missile defense opponents almost immediately after Reagan’s SDI initiative was announced on March 23, 1983, to ridicule especially space-based BMD systems, suggesting they were fantasy like the movie by the same name.
But by the end of what I refer to as the “SDI era” in January 1993, we knew such space-based defense capabilities were no fantasy. But they were not politically correct — and so efforts to develop them were canceled by Aspin’s 1993 action and they have remained dormant ever since, through both Democrat and Republican administrations.
It’s time to revisit that question — with gusto, especially given the cost-effectiveness concern of Admiral Gortney and others.
But such initiatives seem unlikely in the current administration which seems dedicated to building what we recognized in the late 1980s to be the most expensive, least effective BMD systems, e.g., the ground-based interceptor sites in Alaska and California — and now contemplated with much fanfare for an east coast site to defend against Iranian ICBMs.
What we recognized a quarter century ago to be the most effective and least costly BMD systems — those based in space — have received little or no attention since 1993, at least by the United States. We seem stuck in the mode of seeking to avoid the so-called “militarization of space,” even to defend against a threat that passes through space to pose an existential threat to all we hold dear. This illusion has to change if we are ever to have truly effective BMD systems.
As an aside, I would note that at least some of us are concerned that China is currently exploiting technologies that were cutting edge SDI technologies that we dropped a quarter century ago. As far as I know, the United States is still largely ignoring them. Meanwhile, China is exploiting them for offensive purposes to pose a threat to our space-based systems as well as other U.S. military systems.
We need a changed approach—and “quick fixes” to some very troublesome problems.
To counter these threats we need to revive Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” vision including effective missile defenses, including those that are space based, and to harden the electric grid against EMP effects.
No time to waste in dealing with this threat, don’t you think?
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will continue to inform our readers of the looming threat discussed above—and where appropriate urge them to engage in countering that threat. Our leaders are failing at their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense”
We will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
We are especially focused on the nuclear power reactors that produce 60 percent of SC electricity—and more generally 20-percent of the nation’s electricity.
If it can be assured that they “operate through” a major blackout of the electric power grid, they can play a very important role for resurrecting it over an extended time and supporting the general public’s survival in the meantime. Click here to see the recent Washington Examiner article to infer the urgent importance of assuring this capability for our nuclear power reactors.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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