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Week of: February 18, 2001

Think Globally for Missile Defense

by F.R. Duplantier

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher says the U.S. should build a national missile defense -- and a global one as well.

"Since the end of the Cold War, politics, journalism, and academe have been heavily preoccupied with debating what happened and why," observes former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. "That is only natural," she concedes. "But we have also seen a rather unsubtle attempt at revision -- the claim that, contrary to what appeared at the time, the Cold War wasn't really won, or, if it was, it wasn't won by the Cold Warriors but in spite of them."

In a recent issue of Hoover Digest, a quarterly publication of the Hoover Institution, Lady Thatcher declares that "the revisionists are wrong, and the Right was right. We know that the Soviet Union in its heyday was an expansionist, hostile, and lethal power," she asserts. "We also know, from what the last foreign minister of the Soviet Union himself has said on the matter, that the Reagan defense buildup in general, and the SDI program in particular, did have a decisive role in forcing the Soviets to alter course."

Thatcher stresses the importance of understanding our Cold War victory. "Simply put," she declares, "if we learn the wrong lessons from the Cold War, we shall also risk the peace. If we come to believe that the best way to avoid danger is to evade rather than confront it; if we think that negotiation is always the statesmanlike option; if we prefer empty multilateral gestures to powerful national responses, then we shall pay a heavy price -- and our children, and grandchildren, will pay it too."

Thatcher lists three tasks facing the Western nations today. "First," she observes, "we have to defend our homelands against present and future threats. Second, we have to maintain our military capabilities and our alliances in good shape. Third, we have to project our values and the institutions that nurture them across the globe." Thatcher emphasizes that "the nature of the threat has fundamentally changed, as indeed has our ability to respond to it. It is the activities of the rogue states and the possibility of unplanned launches of missiles armed with warheads that should now be our main concern," she asserts. "We must also be able to prevent the intimidation of friendly states like Taiwan. The way to achieve this is through the construction of an effective system of ballistic missile defense."

Thatcher suggests "a global rather than merely a national missile defense system. Technically," she notes, "it is safer for us, and more dangerous for our enemy, if their missile can be destroyed in the boost phase, before it is able to send out decoys. Politically, it will solidify the NATO alliance if all its members can be brought within this defense system. Strategically, global ballistic missile defense will reinforce America's position as the only truly global superpower, on which rests the security of all nations from missile attack. To achieve these goals will be expensive," Thatcher acknowledges. "America's allies should meet a share of the cost," she affirms. "And delay must be avoided."


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