We must ‘rebalance’ in the right way.
In the 1990s, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that North Korea might acquire an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015. That threat is now here. North Korea demonstrated ICBM capability twice in July, with a missile that might be able to reach Chicago. This demonstration came only a year and a half later than those old warnings had estimated. North Korea has also shown that it has hydrogen-bomb technology that it could mate to its new missile.
It is good that the United States has in place a limited defensive capability against this threat. That this capability exists, however, was far from automatic. It required sustained leadership and vision. In 2000, even while declining to move forward with deployment, President Bill Clinton declared that national missile defense would be an important form of insurance. In 2001, President George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and in 2004 he deployed the first ground-based interceptors in Alaska. Had that old 1972 treaty with the former Soviet Union remained in place, today’s defense would not have been possible. In 2010, the Obama administration observed that the United States was, at least at the time, in an “advantageous” position relative to the threat of long-range missile attack such as that from North Korea. And so it was.
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