The one thing that the hijacking of American airplanes to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon showed is that the United States is open to suicide attacks. Why is this? In the United States, the concept of killing oneself to attack an enemy is not perceived. Americans don’t normally give up their lives so easily to kill another. This is a fatal flaw in American strategy. Everything is based on the other side wanting to preserve life. It simply isn’t true. Just look at any normal day in the conflict between
Palestine and Israel. Suicide bombers are the weapon of choice. Another example is dictators like Saddam Hussein, who will put their citizenry at the mercy of their enemies to maintain power.
Suicide is also not taken into account with the U.S. nuclear strategy. Since the 60s the U.S. has based their strategy on weathering the first on-slaught of attacks and then retaliating to the point that the enemy cannot launch a second. This worked with an enemy like the Soviets. However, with rogue nations beginning to acquire nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, with launch vehicles that can reach the United States, this strategy will not be as much of a deterrence. One of the most immediate threats is North Korea, which has consistently put the health of its military ahead of the health of its citizens. Another nation is Iraq, which uses its citizens to shield military installations. Iran in the past has had no problem with funding groups that send their own members to their deaths to hurt those who disagree with their fundamentalism.
Then there is China. Probably the largest threat the United States currently has. The Chinese are pretty bent on the eventual return of Taiwan to its sovereignty. They have threatened to use force if necessary. This would drag the United States into a conflict with China over Taiwan. But as Chinese General Xiong Guangkai has said, “In the end, you care a lot more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei.”
Which would actually be the current U.S. strategy in reverse; the Chinese would be deterring U.S. action to protect an ally. If China did follow through with a nuclear attack, the results would be just as suicidal as it would be for any rogue nation.
So what is the solution to this dilemma with such suicidal states? A NMD (National Missile Defense) plan must be implemented. The ability to retaliate as the only line of defense is an obsolete strategy. Especially when the other side is willing to die for what they believe in. With a NMD plan, America would be able to stop threats from developing. It would deny nations the use of nuclear weapons in future strategies. Other countries don’t have the budgets to implement such a vast offensive force. Not even the Soviets could do it.
Others might say, what about the ABM treaty? This treaty is a relic of the Cold War. The fact is that a NMD plan would be very effective. If it wasn’t, nations wouldn’t be complaining about it.
Alex Hardman is a junior majoring in Engineering. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org