In the largest, most complex test ever attempted, U.S. military shot down a simulated long-range ballistic missile this past Friday. The target missile was launched from Kodiak Island, Alaska, at 3:04 p.m. Eastern time, tracked simultaneously by several ground and ship-based radars, and intercepted by a “kill vehicle” 3,000 kilometers away over the Pacific 25 minutes later. Friday’s test 13th ground-based interceptor test since 1999, and the 8th successful one. Overall, there have been 36 intercepts in 46 tries across all elements of the evolving shield.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave Barack Obama his first major foreign policy test the day after the election by vowing to move short-range missiles to the Polish border if the president-elect honors a Bush administration agreement to install a defensive shield in Eastern Europe. Instead of reassuring our NATO allies, however, Obama’s tentative response emboldened the Russians to conduct naval war games with Venezuela in the Caribbean.
This is “no time to go all wobbly,” as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to say. It is only a matter of time before Iran has a nuclear-armed missile that can hit Israel, Saudi Arabia or Europe. And there is no assurance that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez won’t sign a mutual defense pact that puts such weapons within range of the U.S. homeland. When that happens, 87 percent of Americans agree, we’d better be able to protect ourselves.
Obama promised during the campaign to work more closely with other nations. Yet he has failed to provide concrete assurance to Polish President Lech Kaczynski that he would honor the agreement the Bush administration negotiated to place U.S. missile defense units in Poland. Obama apparently believes the defensive system should be deployed, but only “when the technology is proved to be workable.” Well, by any reasonable standards, that’s now.