President James Garfield once quipped, "Of course, I deprecate war, but if it is brought to my door the bringer will find me at home."
A hero during the Civil War, Garfield understood the horrors of war, but he also knew that the best way to prevent them was not to invite them through neglect. Having a strong national defense capable of deterring enemies and defending the nation often means never having to use it.
Today, America finds itself in a more dangerous world than that of Garfield's day. In July, the North Korean regime, led by dictator Kim Jong Un, tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles. The second test was conducted on July 28, and it went higher and farther than anything they had successfully tested before, demonstrating sufficient range to decimate an American city if they successfully attached a nuclear warhead to it.
On Aug. 23, North Korea again provoked the United States by "accidentally" publicizing its plans for new missiles, highlighted with a picture of the dear leader himself inspecting the the diagrams. Then the Aug. 28 launch flew over Japan.
For years, U.S. military and intelligence leaders assessed that North Korea had ICBM capability, but their weapons were largely unproven. In just six years, the young Kim has tested more missiles than his father did during his entire reign as the rogue country's totalitarian leader. He has transformed his nation's theoretical ICBM capability into an indisputable danger to the United States.
Adding to the threat of stationary, land-based ICBMs coming from North Korea, they have also advanced their submarine-launched ballistic missile capabilities. Moreover, in February, the North Korean military substantiated that it has a solid-fueled and road-mobile ballistic missile. Taken together, these developments show a dedication to developing a weapons program designed to threaten the United States and our allies.
Unfortunately, North Korea is not alone in developing its nuclear capabilities. Russia has also created a new ground-launched nuclear cruise missile, which is guided in flight. These actions violate the country's obligations in the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty and undermine world peace.
It all means that we need to bolster our national defense, and the best place to start is by developing and employing a proven missile defense system that can deter nuclear conflict.
The most modern technology to protect the United States from a missile strike remains the Ground-based Missile Defense system, which our military successfully tested recently in California and Hawaii. This test served as a "critical milestone" because, for the first time, the missile system detected and destroyed a ballistic missile without needing coordinates put into its computers.
The only way to prevent the chaos and death that a nuclear missile attack would bring is by funding missile defense programs. These important systems have been underfunded for many years.
We must also affirm that the United States will protect itself from any ballistic missile threat, whether accidental or intentional, and place missile defense batteries on the East Coast. Currently, California, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only locations where missile defense systems are in place. It's time for that to expand: Adding missile defense to other vulnerable spots in the country would increase the safety of the homeland and show our enemies that we can stop any attacks on our soil.
Finally, it's time for the Trump administration to develop and deploy a space-based missile defense interceptor layer. President Reagan was correct when he anticipated the expansion of space-going missiles becoming a threat to our country. He believed we should defend ourselves by deploying anti-missile systems in outer space, and we should work to follow through on his vision. This is the most appropriate way to address the expanding number of threats facing our country.
Over the past few decades, the world has become a more dangerous place. The United States no longer faces a small number of enemies capable of hitting our homeland with long-range missiles.
Rogue states led by maniacs have developed ICBMs capable of hitting the West Coast. This means the time for us to respond has arrived. If we want to remain the world's most powerful nation — if we want to maintain world peace — we must promote and expand our missile defense systems.
Jeff Isaak is a political consultant and former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
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