In today’s Washington Post, Bradley Graham writes that “sometime this autumn” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will activate a key component of our National Missile Defense - an interceptor system in Alaska. (Interceptor System Set, But Doubts Remain)
In the article Mr. Graham says, “President Bush already has begun to claim fulfillment of a 2000 presidential campaign pledge -- and longtime Republican Party goal -- to build a nationwide missile defense.”
How about that? What I thought was a non-functioning boondoggle is actually a nationwide missile defense system. (I’ll cut Bush some slack because that was not a direct quote - I would be interested if anyone sees a quote where Bush says that we have an operational national missile defense system).
The article details some of the major problems with the national missile defense program (which is now looking like it will cost more than $100 billion). The interesting part for me was reading about the non-technical problems. It seems the debate in the Pentagon is not about whether or not the system works – there is almost universal acknowledgement that the current system would not work – the debate is about whether we should go live with a system that we know does not work. It all comes down to politics.
In a passage that is eerily similar to his analysis of the Iraq situation, Secretary Rumsfeld is quoted as saying we should go ahead with the current system,
"Did we have perfection with our first airplane, our first rifle, our first ship? I mean, they'd still be testing at Kitty Hawk, for God's sake, if you wanted perfection."
The Daily Show calls this the “Ziggy Doctrine” (Headlines: Mess O’ Potamia). Nothing’s perfect.